A Comprehensive Multistate Model Analyzing Associations of Various Risk Factors With the Course of Breast Cancer in a Population-Based Cohort of Breast Cancer Cases

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Abstract

We employed a semi-Markov multistate model for the simultaneous analysis of various endpoints describing the course of breast cancer. Results were compared with those from standard analyses using a Cox proportional hazards model. We included 3,012 patients with invasive breast cancer newly diagnosed between 2001 and 2005 who were recruited in Germany for a population-based study, the Mamma Carcinoma Risk Factor Investigation (MARIE Study), and prospectively followed up until the end of 2009. Locoregional recurrence and distant metastasis were included as intermediate states, and deaths from breast cancer, secondary cancer, and other causes were included as competing absorbing states. Tumor characteristics were significantly associated with all breast cancer–related endpoints. Nodal involvement was significantly related to local recurrence but more strongly related to distant metastases. Smoking was significantly associated with mortality from second cancers and other causes, whereas menopausal hormone use was significantly associated with reduced distant metastasis and death from causes other than cancer. The presence of cardiovascular disease at diagnosis was solely associated with mortality from other causes. Compared with separate Cox models, multistate models allow for dissection of prognostic factors and intermediate events in the analysis of cause-specific mortality and can yield new insights into disease progression and associated pathways.

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