Introduction. Lymphocyte subsets are important in regulating immunity and specific killing of tumour cells and appear to be strongly associated with the development of solid tumours. However, their prognostic value in cancer patients remains unclear.
The objective of the study was to determine whether peripheral blood lymphocytes subsets might be prognostic markers for patients with solid cancers.
Material and methods. A databases search was conducted to identify publications from 2010 to 2020 exploring the association of different lymphocyte subsets with overall survival and disease-free survival among cancer patients.
Results. Twenty-nine articles referring to 14 different malignancies were included: 21 evaluated the immune parameters before surgery and 8 after surgery. Sixteen studies reported lymphopenia associated with poor prognosis, other 3 reported increased lymphocytes associated with better prognosis, while 10 studies reported different data: 6 showed correlations between high lymphocyte count and poor prognosis, one study reported low lymphocyte subsets with better prognosis and three reported no impact on prognosis.
Conclusions. Lymphocyte depletion, before and after surgery, tends to be associated with reduced survival rate. Post-surgery, lymphocyte subsets could have higher predictive value compared to their preoperative levels and regulatory T cells (Tregs) may be a better prognostic indicator of survival.
Keywords: cancer, lymphocytes, overall survival, disease-free survival, prognosis.
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