Open Access: Simulation model of disease incidence driven by diagnostic activity

Each week, we select a recently published Open Access article to feature. This week’s article comes from Statistics in Medicine and proposes a simulation model of disease incidence driven by diagnostic activity.

The article’s abstract is given below, with the full article available to read here.

Westerberg, MLarsson, RHolmberg, LStattin, PGarmo, HSimulation model of disease incidence driven by diagnostic activityStatistics in Medicine2021401172– 1188

It is imperative to understand the effects of early detection and treatment of chronic diseases, such as prostate cancer, regarding incidence, overtreatment and mortality. Previous simulation models have emulated clinical trials, and relied on extensive assumptions on the natural history of the disease. In addition, model parameters were typically calibrated to a variety of data sources. We propose a model designed to emulate real‐life scenarios of chronic disease using a proxy for the diagnostic activity without explicitly modeling the natural history of the disease and properties of clinical tests. Our model was applied to Swedish nation‐wide population‐based prostate cancer data, and demonstrated good performance in terms of reconstructing observed incidence and mortality. The model was used to predict the number of prostate cancer diagnoses with a high or limited diagnostic activity between 2017 and 2060. In the long term, high diagnostic activity resulted in a substantial increase in the number of men diagnosed with lower risk disease, fewer men with metastatic disease, and decreased prostate cancer mortality. The model can be used for prediction of outcome, to guide decision‐making, and to evaluate diagnostic activity in real‐life settings with respect to overdiagnosis and prostate cancer mortality.


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