Stat Methods Med Res 2013 Jun 1;22(3):243-60. Epub 2011 Jun 1.
INSERM, CR897-Biostatistic, Bordeaux, France.
Owing to the natural evolution of a disease, several events often arise after a first treatment for the same subject. For example, patients with a primary invasive breast cancer and treated with breast conserving surgery may experience breast cancer recurrences, metastases or death. A certain proportion of subjects in the population who are not expected to experience the events of interest are considered to be 'cured' or non-susceptible. To model correlated failure time data incorporating a surviving fraction, we compare several forms of cure rate frailty models. In the first model already proposed non-susceptible patients are those who are not expected to experience the event of interest over a sufficiently long period of time. The other proposed models account for the possibility of cure after each event. We illustrate the cure frailty models with two data sets. First to analyse time-dependent prognostic factors associated with breast cancer recurrences, metastases, new primary malignancy and death. Second to analyse successive rehospitalizations of patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Estimates were obtained by maximization of likelihood using SAS proc NLMIXED for a piecewise constant hazards model. As opposed to the simple frailty model, the proposed methods demonstrate great potential in modelling multivariate survival data with long-term survivors ('cured' individuals).
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