BACKGROUND: Chronic inflammation has been recognized to foster tumour development. Whether chemotherapy can be used to neutralize chronic inflammation is unclear.
METHODS: We evaluated baseline and nadir neutrophils in 111 patients (pts.) with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and 118 pts. with ovarian cancer (OC) treated with chemotherapy administered with dose-individualization to achieve nadir neutropenia of 1.5. We used predefined baseline neutrophil cut-offs 4.5 × 109/L (NSCLC) and 3.9 × 109/L (OC).
RESULTS: Absence of chemotherapy-induced nadir neutropenia (CTCAE grade 0, neutrophils ≥ LLN) was seen in 23% of OC and 25% of NSCLC pts. Absence of nadir neutropenia was associated with decreased overall survival (OS) compared with presence (>grade 0) of neutropenia (9 vs. 14 months, P=0.004 for NSCLC and 23 vs. 56 months; P=0.01 for OC). Obtaining grade 3/4 neutropenia did not improve survival compared with grade 1/2 neutropenia. In multivariate analyses, baseline neutrophils ≥ 4.5 × 109/L (HR: 2.0; 95% CI: 1.11-3.44;P = 0.02) and absence of nadir neutropenia (HR: 1.6; 95% CI: 1.02-2.65;P = 0.04) for NSCLC and absence of nadir neutropenia (HR: 1.7; 95% CI: 1.04;2.93;P = 0.04) for OC were independently associated with short OS.
CONCLUSIONS: A neutrophil index comprising elevated baseline neutrophils and absence of neutropenia identified a high risk group of NSCLC and ovarian cancer patients with only modest effect of chemotherapy. New treatment options for this subset of patients are required.