Background Cabazitaxel significantly improves overall survival (OS) in men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) progressing during or after docetaxel, but is associated with a higher rate of grade ≥3 neutropenia compared with docetaxel. We thus examined the relationship between cabazitaxel-induced grade ≥3 neutropenia, baseline neutrophil-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) and treatment outcomes.
Methods Data from the experimental arm of the TROPIC phase 3 trial which randomly assigned men with mCRPC to cabazitaxel or mitoxantrone every 3 weeks, both combined with daily prednisone, were analysed. The influence on OS (primary end-point) and progression-free survival (PFS) of at least one episode of grade ≥3 neutropenia during cabazitaxel therapy was investigated using Cox regression models, adjusted for pain at baseline. The relationships with prostate-specific antigen (PSA) responses during cabazitaxel therapy and baseline NLR were also analysed.
Findings The occurrence of grade ≥3 neutropenia during cabazitaxel therapy was associated with a prolonged OS (median 16.3 versus 14.0 months, hazard ratio (HR) [95% confidence interval] = 0.65 [0.43-0.97], p = 0.035), a twice longer PFS (median 5.3 versus 2.6 months, HR = 0.56 [0.40-0.79], p = 0.001) and a higher confirmed PSA response ≥50% (49.8% versus 24.4%, p = 0.005), as compared with patients who did not develop grade ≥3 neutropenia. Grade ≥3 neutropenia was more common in case of NLR <3 as compared with NLR ≥3 at baseline (88.8% versus 75.3%, p = 0.002). Combining low NLR at baseline and grade ≥3 neutropenia during therapy was associated with the longest OS (median 19.2 months) while high NLR at baseline and no grade ≥3 neutropenia was associated with a poor OS (median 12.9 months, HR 0.46 [0.28-0.76], p = 0.002). In the subgroup of neutropenic patients the median OS was 19.7 months in those treated with granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) and 16 months on those without G-CSF support.
Interpretation This post-hoc analysis of TROPIC suggests that the occurrence of grade ≥3 neutropenia with cabazitaxel is associated with improved OS and PFS. Patients with a low NLR at baseline were more likely to develop grade ≥3 neutropenia during cabazitaxel therapy and showed the longest OS. High NLR at baseline and no grade ≥3 neutropenia during therapy was associated with poor outcomes which may suggest insufficient drug exposure or a limited impact on the tumour-associated immune response. Primary or secondary prophylactic use of G-CSF had no adverse impact for outcome. If prospectively confirmed, these results would justify maintaining the intended cabazitaxel dose of 25 mg/m2 whenever possible.

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European Journal of Cancer
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam