A marginal regression model for multivariate failure time data with a surviving fraction
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A marginal regression approach for correlated censored survival data has become a widely used statistical method. Examples of this approach in survival analysis include from the early work by Wei et al. (J Am Stat Assoc 84:1065–1073, 1989) to more recent work by Spiekerman and Lin (J Am Stat Assoc 93:1164–1175, 1998). This approach is particularly useful if a covariate’s population average effect is of primary interest and the correlation structure is not of interest or cannot be appropriately specified due to lack of sufficient information. In this paper, we consider a semiparametric marginal proportional hazard mixture cure model for clustered survival data with a surviving or “cure” fraction. Unlike the clustered data in previous work, the latent binary cure statuses of patients in one cluster tend to be correlated in addition to the possible correlated failure times among the patients in the cluster who are not cured. The complexity of specifying appropriate correlation structures for the data becomes even worse if the potential correlation between cure statuses and the failure times in the cluster has to be considered, and thus a marginal regression approach is particularly attractive. We formulate a semiparametric marginal proportional hazards mixture cure model. Estimates are obtained using an EM algorithm and expressions for the variance–covariance are derived using sandwich estimators. Simulation studies are conducted to assess finite sample properties of the proposed model. The marginal model is applied to a multi-institutional study of local recurrences of tonsil cancer patients who received radiation therapy. It reveals new findings that are not available from previous analyses of this study that ignored the potential correlation between patients within the same institution.
KeywordsCopula Cure Logit link Mixture model Proportional hazards Sandwich variance estimate Semiparametric Tonsil cancer
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