Basal neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio is associated with overall survival in melanoma

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Several studies have reported that a high neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) is associated with poor clinical outcomes in several cancers, but this ratio has not been thoroughly studied in melanoma except in stage IV. This is the first study on NLR in melanoma stages I–III. This was a retrospective study of 742 melanoma patients. The NLR was classified into NLR<2 and a NLR≥2 on the basis of a receiver operating characteristic curve. Associations of NLR with clinicopathological characteristics and survival were examined. The median patient age was 57 years (range: 15–91; Q1=46, Q3=70), and the median Breslow’s thickness was 3.0 mm (range: 0.5–60; Q1=1.0, Q3=7). Clinical stage at presentation was as follows: (i) stage I in 27%; (ii) stage II in 33.2%; (iii) stage III in 36.5%; and (iv) stage IV in 3.3%. NLR≥2 was associated with lymph node metastasis (36.6 vs. 18.1%) and recurrence (28.2 vs. 22.1%). The 5-year overall survival (OS) was 63% for the NLR<2 group and 53% for the NLR≥2 group. Stage-by-stage analysis showed that the 5-year OS in the NLR≥2 group for stages I, II, III, and IV were 91, 60, 28, and 0%, respectively, whereas for the NLR<2 group the 5-year OS were 98, 68, 31, and 0%, respectively. Significant differences between NLR<2 and ≥2 occurred only in stage II (P=0.014). Univariate analysis showed that factors associated with decreased OS clinical stage were Breslow’s thickness, ulceration, male sex, and NLR≥2. In the multivariate analysis, all of these factors were predictors of decreased survival. The NLR appears to be an accurate prognostic marker for decreased OS in patients with melanoma, especially in clinical stage II. NLR≥2 correlated with lymph node metastasis and recurrence.

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