Background Surgical outcomes of early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) are poor. The Geriatric Nutritional Risk Index (GNRI) is a useful parameter for evaluating nutritional status. We aimed to investigate if preoperative GNRI could be a predictive factor for pathological stage I NSCLC patients. Patients and methods We retrospectively selected 141 consecutive pathological stage I NSCLC patients treated from August 2005 to August 2010. We analyzed their preoperative GNRI in univariate and multivariate Cox regression analyses for postoperative recurrence-free survival (RFS). Results A preoperative abnormal GNRI was significantly associated with postoperative recurrence (P = 0.0107). Univariate analyses showed that serum carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) levels (P = 0.0013), preoperative serum albumin level (P < 0.0001), preoperative GNRI (P = 0.0009), pleural invasion (P < 0.0001) and blood vessel invasion (P = 0.0137) significantly affected RFS. In multivariate analysis, preoperative GNRI (P = 0.0084), CEA level (P = 0.0031), preoperative serum albumin level (P = 0.0041) and pleural invasion (P = 0.0018) were independent prognostic factors. In Kaplan–Meier analysis of RFS, cancer-specific survival (CS), and overall survival (OS) by preoperative GNRI, the abnormal GNRI group had significantly shorter RFS, CS, and OS (5-year RFS, CS, and OS: 52.81% vs. 89.15%; P < 0.0001, 81.73% vs. 94.73%; P = 0.0014 and 50.84% vs. 89.57%; P < 0.0001, log-rank test, respectively). Conclusions Preoperative GNRI is a novel prognostic factor for pathological stage I NSCLC patients, which can identify high-risk patients for postoperative recurrence and cancer-related death.
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