Background: Performance status is an attempt to quantify cancer patients’ general well-being. This measure is used to determine whether they can receive chemotherapy. This study was to determine the expression of T-lymphocyte subpopulation in patients with gastric cancer and the relationship between T-lymphocyte subpopulation expression and patient performance status.
Methods: Flow cytometry was used to detect the T-lymphocyte subsets presented in peripheral blood in untreated patients with gastric cancer (n = 57) and healthy controls (n = 27). The gastric cancer patients were assessed with ECOG score and divided into two groups by score > 2 (n = 8) and score ≤ 2 (n = 16). Spearman's rank correlation was used to determine the relationship between the proportion of T-lymphocytes and ECOG score. In addition, the clinical data of gastric cancer patients were analyzed.
Results: The percentage of CD8+ and CD4+ T-cells among lymphocytes was higher and lower, respectively, in advanced gastric cancer patients than that in early gastric cancer patients (p < 0.05). Furthermore, the percentage of CD8+ and CD4+ cells among lymphocytes was higher and lower in advanced gastric cancer patients with PS > 2 and PS ≤ 2, respectively (p < 0.05). However, no significant difference of CD8+ and CD4+ lymphocytes was found among the advanced gastric cancer patients with PS ≤ 2, early gastric cancer patients, and healthy controls.
Conclusions: Our results show that the determinants of the T-lymphocyte subpopulation in gastric cancer patients were of value in assessing performance status. We considered CD4+ and CD8+ T-lymphocytes to be a representative and stable parameter in quantifying cancer patients' general well-being, which could be used to determine whether they can receive chemotherapy and/or whether dose adjustment is necessary.