Predicting US- and state-level cancer counts for the current calendar year

Part I: evaluation of temporal projection methods for mortality


  • See companion article on pages 1100-1109, this issue.



A study was undertaken to evaluate the temporal projection methods that are applied by the American Cancer Society to predict 4-year-ahead projections.


Cancer mortality data recorded in each year from 1969 through 2007 for the United States overall and for each state from the National Center for Health Statistics was obtained. Based on the mortality data through 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003, Projections were made 4 years ahead to estimate the expected number of cancer deaths in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, respectively, in the United States and in each state, using 5 projection methods. These predictive estimates were compared to the observed number of deaths that occurred for all cancers combined and 47 cancer sites at the national level, and 21 cancer sites at the state level.


Among the models that were compared, the joinpoint regression model with modified Bayesian information criterion selection produced estimates that are closest to the actual number of deaths. Overall, results show the 4-year-ahead projection has larger error than 3-year-ahead projection of death counts when the same method is used. However, 4-year-ahead projection from the new method performed better than the 3-year-ahead projection from the current state-space method.


The Joinpoint method with modified Bayesian information criterion model has the smallest error of all the models considered for 4-year-ahead projection of cancer deaths to the current year for the United States overall and for each state. This method will be used by the American Cancer Society to project the number of cancer deaths starting in 2012. Cancer 2012; © 2012 American Cancer Society.