Determination of a Change Point in the Age at Diagnosis of Breast Cancer Using a Survival Model


Department of Biostatistics, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran E-mail:


Breast cancer, the second cause of cancer-related death after lung cancer and the most common cancer in women after skin cancer, is curable if detected in early stages of clinical presentation. Knowledge as to any age cut-off points which might have significance for prognostic groups is important in screening and treatment planning. Therefore, determining a change-point could improve resource allocation. This study aimed to determine if a change point for survival might exist in the age of breast cancer diagnosis. This study included 568 cases of breast cancer that were registered in Breast Cancer Research Center, Tehran, Iran, during the period 1986-2006 and were followed up to 2012. In the presence of curable cases of breast cancer, a change point in the age of breast cancer diagnosis was estimated using a mixture survival cure model. The data were analyzed using SPSS (versions 20) and R (version 2.15.0) software. The results revealed that a change point in the age of breast cancer diagnosis was at 50 years age. Based on our estimation, 35% of the patients diagnosed with breast cancer at age less than or equal to 50 years of age were cured while the figure was 57% for those diagnosed after 50 years of age. Those in the older age group had better survival compared to their younger counterparts during 12 years of follow up. Our results suggest that it is better to estimate change points in age for cancers which are curable in early stages using survival cure models, and that the cure rate would increase with timely screening for breast cancer.