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Statistical Analysis of Multivariate Interval-Censored Data in Breast Cancer Follow-Up Studies

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Annual rept. 1 Jul 2000-30 Jun 2001

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Interval-censored IC data are encountered in three areas of breast cancer research. The most common application is in clinical relapse follow-up studies in which the study endpoint is disease-free survival. When a patient relapses, it is usually known that the relapse takes place between two follow-up visits, and the exact time to relapse is unknown. In statistics, we say relapse time is interval censored. Interval censoring is also encountered in breast cancer registry studies in which information on family history of cancer is updated periodically. The Strang Breast Surveillance Program for women at increased risk for breast cancer, for instance, has enlisted over 800 women with complete pedigree information which is verified and updated continuously. Family history data such as age at diagnosis of a specific cancer, or a benign but risk-conferring condition, are obtained from each registrant at each update. Time to a cancer event, and definitely time to first detection of a benign condition, are at best known to fall in the time interval between the last update and age at diagnosis. A third but increasingly important area of application of interval censoring is in breast cancer chemoprevention experiments or prevention trials, which involve the observation of one or more surrogate endpoint biomarkers SEB over time. The scientific question of interest here is the estimation of time for the SEB to reach a target value, and time from cessation of intake of a chemopreventive agent to the loss of its protective effect. Unfortunately, the exact values of both these time variables are known only to lie in between two successive assay inspection times.

Subject Categories:

  • Medicine and Medical Research
  • Statistics and Probability

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