Clinical and pathological predictors have proved to be insufficient in identifying high-risk patients who develop cancer recurrence after tumour resection. We aimed to compare the prognostic ability of various inflammation markers in patients undergoing surgical resection of lung cancer. We consecutively included 2,066 patients with stage I–III non-small-cell lung cancer undergoing surgical resection at the center between 2005 and 2015. We evaluated prognostic nutritional index, neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio, and platelet-to-lymphocyte ratio along with their perioperative changes. We conducted stepwise backward variable elimination and internal validation to compare the selected markers’ predictive performance for postoperative recurrence-free survival and overall survival. Preoperative neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio independently predicts recurrence-free survival (HR: 1.267, 95% CI 1.064–1.509, p = 0.0079, on base-2 logarithmic scale) and overall survival (HR: 1.357, 95% CI 1.070–1.721, p = 0.0117, on base-2 logarithmic scale). The cut-off value is 2.3 for predicting both recurrence (sensitivity: 46.1% and specificity: 66.7%) and mortality (sensitivity: 84.2% and specificity: 40.4%). Advanced cancer stage, poor tumour differentiation, and presence of perineural infiltration were significantly correlated with higher preoperative neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio. We concluded that preoperative neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio is superior to prognostic nutritional index and platelet-to-lymphocyte ratio in predicting postoperative recurrence and mortality of patients undergoing surgical resection of non-small-cell lung cancer.
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