Does Neutrophil-to-Lymphocyte Ratio (NLR) Predict Pathologic Response to Neoadjuvant Chemoradiotherapy in Patients with Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma?



Neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (nCRT), followed by surgery, is the current standard of care for patients with locally advanced esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. However, up to 30% of the patients do not respond to nCRT. Hence, a simple, cost-effective marker to predict response before initiation of nCRT is needed. Neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) has been reported as a prognostic marker in various cancers. However, its role as a predictive marker in patients with esophageal SCC planned for nCRT has not been prospectively analyzed.

Materials and Methods

All consecutive patients with locally advanced (T1N1 and T2–T4a with or without nodal involvement) SCC planned for nCRT (CROSS protocol) followed by esophagectomy with total two field lymphadenectomy between December 2013 and December 2019 were included in this prospective analytical cohort study. NLR was calculated 1 week before starting the nCRT and was correlated with the histopathological response [Mandard tumor regression grade (TRG)].


Of the 216 patients with esophageal cancer evaluated during the study period, 57 patients with SCC who fulfilled the inclusion criteria were included. A good pathologic response (TRG 1 and 2) to nCRT was seen in 28 (49.1%) patients. Using a ROC curve, the optimal cutoff value of pretherapy NLR for predicting good pathologic response was 2.33. With an NLR cutoff value of 2.33, 53.3% of patients had a good pathologic response to nCRT compared with 47.6% patients with NLR ≥ 2.33 (P = 0.77).


In patients with locally advanced esophageal SCC, NLR is not a useful marker to predict pathologic response to nCRT.

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Correspondence to Raja Kalayarasan.

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Anand, S., Bhati, G., Gurram, R. et al. Does Neutrophil-to-Lymphocyte Ratio (NLR) Predict Pathologic Response to Neoadjuvant Chemoradiotherapy in Patients with Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma?. J Gastrointest Canc (2020).

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  • Neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Neoadjuvant therapy
  • Squamous cell carcinoma