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Keywords:

  • Accelerated failure time model;
  • Kernel machines;
  • Omnibus test;
  • Resampling;
  • Risk prediction;
  • Survival analysis

Summary

Integrating genomic information with traditional clinical risk factors to improve the prediction of disease outcomes could profoundly change the practice of medicine. However, the large number of potential markers and possible complexity of the relationship between markers and disease make it difficult to construct accurate risk prediction models. Standard approaches for identifying important markers often rely on marginal associations or linearity assumptions and may not capture non-linear or interactive effects. In recent years, much work has been done to group genes into pathways and networks. Integrating such biological knowledge into statistical learning could potentially improve model interpretability and reliability. One effective approach is to employ a kernel machine (KM) framework, which can capture nonlinear effects if nonlinear kernels are used (Scholkopf and Smola, 2002; Liu et al., 2007, 2008). For survival outcomes, KM regression modeling and testing procedures have been derived under a proportional hazards (PH) assumption (Li and Luan, 2003; Cai, Tonini, and Lin, 2011). In this article, we derive testing and prediction methods for KM regression under the accelerated failure time (AFT) model, a useful alternative to the PH model. We approximate the null distribution of our test statistic using resampling procedures. When multiple kernels are of potential interest, it may be unclear in advance which kernel to use for testing and estimation. We propose a robust Omnibus Test that combines information across kernels, and an approach for selecting the best kernel for estimation. The methods are illustrated with an application in breast cancer.