Mean level of pretreatment neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck-cross-sectional study

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Background: Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck have been characterized using various prognostic parameters. These include advanced age, lifestyle habits such as smoking, higher tumor stage at presentation & presence of metastasis. Many patients are diagnosed with head and neck cancers annually in Pakistan, but limited data is available for the prognosis of these patients. This study aims to investigate a new biomarker by estimating the mean level of pretreatment neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio (NLR) in patients with Squamous cell carcinoma of the head & neck.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study using non-probability consecutive sampling techniques for 222 biopsy-proven cases of head & neck squamous cell carcinoma. Clinical & pathological variables were analyzed, including the patient's profile and tumor characteristics. The NLR of each patient before treatment was calculated using the absolute neutrophil count divided by the absolute lymphocyte count in preoperative blood samples. An independent sample t-test was used to assess the mean difference. A p-value less than or equal to 0.05 was taken as statistically significant.
Results: Of 222 patients, a male predominance was seen in the entire cohort. A median pretreatment NLR of 3.19 (2.47-4.97) was identified, and patients were classified into high and low NLRs based on this value. Data analysis revealed a statistically significant increase in NLR among patients with nodal metastasis. In addition, patients with NLR above the median cutoff value of 3.19 demonstrated that there was a significant increase in NLR values with high tumor (T) and nodal (N) classifications with a p-value of 0.001 and 0.003, respectively.
Conclusion: Pretreatment neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio may be associated with increased nodal involvement. It may serve as a useful prognostic predictor for patients with squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. Identifying high-risk patients in the pretreatment phase with the help of such biomarkers will also facilitate early inclusion in clinical trials.


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