Thursday, 5 January 2012

Estimating treatment effects with treatment switching via semicompeting risks models: an application to a colorectal cancer study

Donglin Zeng, Qingxia Chen, Ming-Hui Chen and Joseph Ibrahim have a new paper in Biometrika. This considers the problem of comparing survival times in clinical trials in which there may be an intermediate disease progression event which may cause the treatment (if initially randomized to control) to be switched. Previous approaches to this problem have been proposed, through univariate survival methods. Here, the authors instead consider a multi-state (semi-competing risks) model. Interest lies in determining the survival distribution under a treatment given no switching.

In line with the other recent Biometrika paper, a pattern-mixture type parametrization is adopted in that a logistic regression component is defined for the probability of progression before death and separate conditional hazard function for time to death given no-progression and time to progression given progression, plus time to death from progression. Switching is assumed to be non-informative of outcome given that progression has occurred and the act of switching has a proportional effect on the hazard of death from progression.

Besides rigorous proofs of results, there doesn't seem to be any substantial conceptual advances in the paper, though it does seem to represent a better approach to the specific problem than the previous approaches.

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