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PURPOSE: When exploring survival outcomes for patients with bladder cancer, most studies rely on conventional statistical methods such as proportional hazards models. Given the successful application of machine learning to handle big data in many disciplines outside of medicine, we sought to determine if machine learning could be used to improve our ability to predict survival in bladder cancer patients. We compare the performance of artificial neural networks (ANN), a type of machine learning algorithm, with that of multivariable Cox proportional hazards (CPH) models in the prediction of 5-year disease-specific survival (DSS) and overall survival (OS) in patients with bladder cancer.SUBJECTS AND METHODS: The National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) 18 program database was queried to identify adult patients with bladder cancer diagnosed between 1995 and 2010, yielding 161,227 patients who met our inclusion criteria. ANNs were trained and tested on an 80/20 split of the dataset. Multivariable CPH models were developed in parallel. Variables used for prediction included age, sex, race, grade, SEER stage, tumor size, lymph node involvement, degree of extension, and surgery received. The primary outcomes were 5-year DSS and 5-year OS. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis was conducted, and ANN models were tested for calibration.RESULTS: The area under the curve for the ANN models was 0.81 for the OS model and 0.80 for the DSS model. Area under the curve for the CPH models was 0.70 for OS and 0.81 for DSS. The ANN OS model achieved a calibration slope of 1.03 and a calibration intercept of -0.04, while the ANN DSS model achieved a calibration slope of 0.99 and a calibration intercept of -0.04.CONCLUSIONS: Machine learning algorithms can improve our ability to predict bladder cancer prognosis. Compared to CPH models, ANNs predicted OS more accurately and DSS with similar accuracy. Given the inherent limitations of administrative datasets, machine learning may allow for optimal interpretation of the complex data they contain.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.urolonc.2020.05.009
View details for PubMedID 32593506