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In Frontiers in oncology

Traditional histopathology performed by pathologists through naked eyes is insufficient for accurate survival prediction of bladder cancer (BCa). In addition, how neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio (NLR) could be used for prognosis prediction of BCa patients has not been fully understood. In this study, we collected 508 whole slide images (WSIs) of hematoxylin-eosin strained BCa slices and NLR value from the Shanghai General Hospital and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), which were further processed for nuclear segmentation. Cross-verified prediction models for predicting clinical prognosis were constructed based on machine learning methods. Six WSIs features were selected for the construction of pathomics-based prognosis model, which could automatically distinguish BCa patients with worse survival outcomes, with hazard ratio value of 2.19 in TCGA cohort (95% confidence interval: 1.63-2.94, p <0.0001) and 3.20 in General cohort (95% confidence interval: 1.75-5.87, p = 0.0014). Patients in TCGA cohort with high NLR exhibited significantly worse clinical survival outcome when compared with patients with low NLR (HR = 2.06, 95% CI: 1.29-3.27, p <0.0001). External validation in General cohort also revealed significantly poor prognosis in BCa patients with high NLR (HR = 3.69, 95% CI: 1.83-7.44 p <0.0001). Univariate and multivariate cox regression analysis proved that both the MLPS and the NLR could act as independent prognostic factor for overall survival of BCa patients. Finally, a novel nomogram based on MLPS and NLR was constructed to improve their clinical practicability, which had excellent agreement with actual observation in 1-, 3- and 5-year overall survival prediction. Decision curve analyses both in the TCGA cohort and General cohort revealed that the novel nomogram acted better than both the tumor grade system in prognosis prediction. Our novel nomogram based on MLPS and NLR could act as an excellent survival predictor and provide a scalable and cost-effective method for clinicians to facilitate individualized therapy. Nevertheless, prospective studies are still needed for further verifications.

Chen Siteng, Jiang Liren, Zhang Encheng, Hu Shanshan, Wang Tao, Gao Feng, Zhang Ning, Wang Xiang, Zheng Junhua


bladder cancer, machine learning, neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio, pathomics, prognosis