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Immune functions and the prognosis of patients with solid tumours

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The immune competence of 169 patients with solid malignant tumours was assessed before initiation of radiotherapy or chemotherapy and followed during the course of the disease. The data of years 1974–1984 were collected and subjected to an analysis in order to evaluate their prognostic significance. The number of leucocytes and lymphocytes in the peripheral blood, the percentage or absolute number of E-rosette forming cells or EAC-rosette forming cells or serum immunoglobulin levels did not show any association with the prognosis. Lymphocyte proliferative responses to PHA, Con A and PPD as studied before initiation of the treatment did not correlate with recurrence or final prognosis of the disease, except that the responses to PPD were slightly lower in patients with recurrence of gynaecological cancer, melanoma or gastrointestinal cancer than in their respective control patients. In the values observed after the first treatment course a low response to PPD was associated with poor prognosis in patients with melanoma or gastrointestinal cancer. At the time of recurrent disease the PPD response showed an association with a poor final outcome in patients with gastrointestinal malignancy. Of the responses assessed less than 3 months before death due to cancer, only in patients with breast cancer were low Con A responses seen; in all patient groups the PHA responses decreased in the terminal patients. The results do not support the idea that the methods currently available should be routinely used in the follow-up of cancer patients; rather, they indicate the need to seek new methods for this purpose.

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Correspondence to Eeva Nordman.

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Nordman, E., Lehto, I. & Toivanen, A. Immune functions and the prognosis of patients with solid tumours. Cancer Immunol Immunother 20, 38–42 (1985). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00199771

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  • Breast Cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Prognostic Significance
  • Final Outcome
  • Proliferative Response