• cure rate model;
  • EM algorithm;
  • frailty;
  • interval censored data;
  • smoking cessation study


In cancer trials, a significant fraction of patients can be cured, that is, the disease is completely eliminated, so that it never recurs. In general, treatments are developed to both increase the patients' chances of being cured and prolong the survival time among non-cured patients. A cure rate model represents a combination of cure fraction and survival model, and can be applied to many clinical studies over several types of cancer. In this article, the cure rate model is considered in the interval censored data composed of two time points, which include the event time of interest. Interval censored data commonly occur in the studies of diseases that often progress without symptoms, requiring clinical evaluation for detection (Encyclopedia of Biostatistics. Wiley: New York, 1998; 2090–2095). In our study, an approximate likelihood approach suggested by Goetghebeur and Ryan (Biometrics 2000; 56:1139–1144) is used to derive the likelihood in interval censored data. In addition, a frailty model is introduced to characterize the association between the cure fraction and survival model. In particular, the positive association between the cure fraction and the survival time is incorporated by imposing a common normal frailty effect. The EM algorithm is used to estimate parameters and a multiple imputation based on the profile likelihood is adopted for variance estimation. The approach is applied to the smoking cessation study in which the event of interest is a smoking relapse and several covariates including an intensive care treatment are evaluated to be effective for both the occurrence of relapse and the non-smoking duration. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.