The excess hazard regression model is an approach developed for the analysis of cancer registry data to estimate net survival, that is, the survival of cancer patients that would be observed if cancer was the only cause of death. Cancer registry data typically possess a hierarchical structure: individuals from the same geographical unit share common characteristics such as proximity to a large hospital that may influence access to and quality of health care, so that their survival times might be correlated. As a consequence, correct statistical inference regarding the estimation of net survival and the effect of covariates should take this hierarchical structure into account. It becomes particularly important as many studies in cancer epidemiology aim at studying the effect on the excess mortality hazard of variables, such as deprivation indexes, often available only at the ecological level rather than at the individual level. We developed here an approach to fit a flexible excess hazard model including a random effect to describe the unobserved heterogeneity existing between different clusters of individuals, and with the possibility to estimate non-linear and time-dependent effects of covariates. We demonstrated the overall good performance of the proposed approach in a simulation study that assessed the impact on parameter estimates of the number of clusters, their size and their level of unbalance. We then used this multilevel model to describe the effect of a deprivation index defined at the geographical level on the excess mortality hazard of patients diagnosed with cancer of the oral cavity.
Auteur : Charvat H, Remontet L, Bossard N, Roche L, Dejardin O, Rachet B, Launoy G, Belot A
Statistics in medicine, 2016, p. 19 p.