Role of Inflammation in the Perioperative Management of Urothelial Bladder Cancer With Squamous-Cell Features: Impact of Neutrophil-to-Lymphocyte Ratio on Outcomes and Response to Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy

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Abstract

Background

Neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) might reflect an increased neutrophilic inflammatory response, and urothelial tumors with squamous-cell features (SqD) have been linked to inflammation. We hypothesized that NLR could be prognostic in these patients.

Patients and Methods

In patients with SqD muscle-invasive bladder cancer treated with curative intent, NLR and relationships with outcomes were analyzed by Cox regression, log-rank, and Kaplan-Meier analysis.

Results

Fifty patients presented SqD (median follow-up, 29 months). The ideal NLR cutoff (by receiver operating characteristic curves) was 5. Thirty-seven patients had NLR < 5 and 13 had NLR ≥ 5. The 5-year progression-free survival, cancer-specific survival (CSS), and overall survival were 46.8%, 48.4%, and 45% for NLR < 5 cases, and 10.3%, 10.3%, and 11.7% for NLR ≥ 5 cases (all P < .05). On multivariate analysis, NLR was prognostic (hazard ratio = 4.26, 6.21, and 4.08 for progression-free survival, CSS, and overall survival). Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) was of significant benefit in NLR < 5 patients, with a CSS of 91.2 months (n = 3) versus 38.1 months (n = 24) for those treated with up-front radical cystectomy (P = .009); Kaplan-Meier curves were also significantly different. These differences did not reach statistical significance for patients with NLR ≥ 5. For the 19 patients treated with NAC, NLR was also predictive of response to NAC.

Conclusion

Inflammation, measured by NLR, is potentially prognostic in the perioperative management of SqD. NLR identifies 2 risk groups. Patients displaying low NLR had a 4-fold survival improvement and were highly responsive to NAC. NLR might be a good prognostic tool. Its role as a predictor of response to NAC deserves future study, along with its role as a selection criterion for therapies other than chemotherapy.

Micro-Abstract

Squamous-cell features in bladder cancer, which have been linked to chronic inflammation, represent a challenge to providers and patients because these tumors tend to be chemorefractory. We provide evidence that neutrophil inflammation, measured with peripheral blood levels of neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio as a surrogate, is linked to prognosis with patients displaying low NLR showing a 4-fold survival outcome and being highly responsive to neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

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