Tumor Biology

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 1747–1753 | Cite as

Lymphopenia during routine follow-up may predict relapse in patients with extranodal NK/T cell lymphoma

  • Liang Wang
  • Jing-hua Wang
  • Zhi-jun Wu-Xiao
  • Zhong-jun Xia
  • Hui-qiang Huang
  • Yue LuEmail author
Research Article


Recently, absolute lymphocyte count (ALC) at diagnosis, as a surrogate marker of host immunity, has been reported to be a prognostic factor for clinical outcomes in extranodal NK/T cell lymphoma (ENKTL). In this retrospective study, we set out to investigate whether ALC at the time of confirmed relapse or at last follow-up is a marker for relapse after chemoradiotherapy in 84 patients with stage I/II ENKTL. Receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curve and area under the curve (AUC) analysis showed that ALC at follow-up was a significant marker for relapse (AUC = 0.883, P < 0.001). Using 1.215 × 109/L as the optimal cutoff value of ALC, 44 patients (52.4 %) were in lower ALC group and 40 patients (47.6 %) were in higher ALC group. The sensitivity and specificity for ALC at the time of confirmed relapse or at last follow-up was 94.1 and 76.0 %, respectively. The relative risk of relapse with an ALC < 1.215 × 109/L was 14.5. The positive predictive value with an ALC < 1.215 × 109/L was 72.7 %, and the negative predictive value with an ALC ≥ 1.215 × 109/L was 95.0 %. The 4-year cumulative incidence rate for an ALC < 1.215 × 109/L was 73.2 % compared with 3.2 % for an ALC ≥ 1.215 × 109/L (P < 0.001). In a multivariate regression analysis, ALC at the time of confirmed relapse or last follow-up remained to be a significant factor for relapse (P < 0.001). In conclusion, lymphopenia observed during routine follow-up can predict relapse in patients with ENKTL, which needs further validation in prospective trials.


Absolute lymphocyte count Lymphopenia Relapse Extranodal NK/T cell lymphoma 



We thank all of the physicians at Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center for allowing us to include their patients. We also appreciate the cooperation of all the pathologists at Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center for their support.

Financial support

This work received grant support from National Natural Science Foundation of China (contract/grant number: 81400159), Medical Research Foundation of Guangdong Province (grant number: B2014158), Young Teachers’ Cultivation Project of Sun Yat-sen University (No. 12ykpy54), and Outstanding Young Talents Project of Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center (No. 04190101#).

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liang Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jing-hua Wang
    • 1
  • Zhi-jun Wu-Xiao
    • 3
  • Zhong-jun Xia
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hui-qiang Huang
    • 2
    • 4
  • Yue Lu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Hematological Oncology, State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China, Collaborative Innovation Center for Cancer MedicineSun Yat-sen University Cancer CenterGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South ChinaCollaborative Innovation Center for Cancer MedicineGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of Hematology/OncologyThe Affiliated Hospital of Hainan Medical CollegeHaikouPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Department of Medical OncologySun Yat-sen University Cancer CenterGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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