Purpose: As cancer advances, changes in the systemic inflammatory response alter the relative levels of circulating white blood cell types and may contribute to the progression and outcomes of cancer. The aim of the current study is to clarify the impact of the preoperative neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio (NLR) on the prognosis and whether clinical and pathological features modify the influence of the NLR on the prognosis of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) patients. Methods: We retrospectively analyzed the mortality hazard ratios (HRs), including the preoperative NLR, obtained from data for 283 ESCC patients undergoing resection in the period from 2005 to 2011, adjusting for clinical and pathological features. Results: A high NLR was associated with a significantly shorter overall survival (p = 0.0018) and cancer-specific survival (p = 0.0097). In the multivariate Cox model, we confirmed that the NLR was an independent prognostic marker for both overall survival (p = 0.0081) and cancer-specific survival (p = 0.028). The outcomes were not significantly modified by other diagnostic factors, including the tumor stage, in the survival analysis. Conclusions: The preoperative NLR is significantly associated with a poor prognosis in patients with ESCC, suggesting the utility of NLR as a cost-effective and broadly available independent prognostic marker of ESCC.
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