Direct parametric inference for the cumulative incidence function


Jason Fine, Department of Statistics and Biostatistics, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Room K6-420, 600 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53792, USA.


Summary.  In survival data that are collected from phase III clinical trials on breast cancer, a patient may experience more than one event, including recurrence of the original cancer, new primary cancer and death. Radiation oncologists are often interested in comparing patterns of local or regional recurrences alone as first events to identify a subgroup of patients who need to be treated by radiation therapy after surgery. The cumulative incidence function provides estimates of the cumulative probability of locoregional recurrences in the presence of other competing events. A simple version of the Gompertz distribution is proposed to parameterize the cumulative incidence function directly. The model interpretation for the cumulative incidence function is more natural than it is with the usual cause-specific hazard parameterization. Maximum likelihood analysis is used to estimate simultaneously parametric models for cumulative incidence functions of all causes. The parametric cumulative incidence approach is applied to a data set from the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project and compared with analyses that are based on parametric cause-specific hazard models and nonparametric cumulative incidence estimation.