The immunological state of 30 patients with carcinoma of the bronchus was assessed before and after radiotherapy by lymphocyte response to PHA and E and EAC rosette formation. The results were compared with those from age-matched patients with benign chest disease and a group of healthy control subjects. Differences were found between the three groups and decreased immunological responses were found to correlate with shorter survival times for patients with cancer of the bronchus. These differences were not associated with the extent of the disease, or with the smoking habits of the patients. Significant differences in percentage EAC cell rosetting were demonstrated between lymphocytes from patients with malignant disease (31.3 +/- 2.0) and those for control groups (21.5 +/- 1.9 and 24.0 +/- 2.2). Cancer patients and benign chest disease patients both had significantly decreased mean E rosetting values (59.3% and 55.6%) compared with healthy control subjects (69.7%). The group of cancer patients with a normal percentage of T lymphocytes and total number of lymphocytes after radiotherapy, or those with low percentage EAC cell rosettes, had a greater than 80% survival after seven months compared with less than 50% for the rest of the patients with carcinoma of the bronchus.
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