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Summarizing and communicating on survival data according to the audience: a tutorial on different measures illustrated with population-based cancer registry data

Authors Belot A, Ndiaye A, Luque-Fernandez MA, Kipourou DK, Maringe C, Rubio FJ, Rachet B

Received 8 May 2018

Accepted for publication 2 October 2018

Published 3 January 2019 Volume 2019:11 Pages 53—65

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CLEP.S173523

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Justinn Cochran

Peer reviewer comments 5

Editor who approved publication: Professor Irene Petersen


Aurélien Belot, Aminata Ndiaye, Miguel-Angel Luque-Fernandez, Dimitra-Kleio Kipourou, Camille Maringe, Francisco Javier Rubio, Bernard Rachet

Cancer Survival Group, Department of Non-Communicable Disease Epidemiology, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK

Abstract: Survival data analysis results are usually communicated through the overall survival probability. Alternative measures provide additional insights and may help in communicating the results to a wider audience. We describe these alternative measures in two data settings, the overall survival setting and the relative survival setting, the latter corresponding to the particular competing risk setting in which the cause of death is unavailable or unreliable. In the overall survival setting, we describe the overall survival probability, the conditional survival probability and the restricted mean survival time (restricted to a prespecified time window). In the relative survival setting, we describe the net survival probability, the conditional net survival probability, the restricted mean net survival time, the crude probability of death due to each cause and the number of life years lost due to each cause over a prespecified time window. These measures describe survival data either on a probability scale or on a timescale. The clinical or population health purpose of each measure is detailed, and their advantages and drawbacks are discussed. We then illustrate their use analyzing England population-based registry data of men 15–80 years old diagnosed with colon cancer in 2001–2003, aiming to describe the deprivation disparities in survival. We believe that both the provision of a detailed example of the interpretation of each measure and the software implementation will help in generalizing their use.

Keywords: survival, competing risks, relative survival setting, conditional survival, restricted mean survival time, net survival, crude probability of death, number of life years lost

Creative Commons License This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License. The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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