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Evaluating Markers for Selecting a Patient's Treatment

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Summary. 

Selecting the best treatment for a patient's disease may be facilitated by evaluating clinical characteristics or biomarker measurements at diagnosis. We consider how to evaluate the potential impact of such measurements on treatment selection algorithms. For example, magnetic resonance neurographic imaging is potentially useful for deciding whether a patient should be treated surgically for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or should receive less-invasive conservative therapy. We propose a graphical display, the selection impact (SI) curve that shows the population response rate as a function of treatment selection criteria based on the marker. The curve can be useful for choosing a treatment policy that incorporates information on the patient's marker value exceeding a threshold. The SI curve can be estimated using data from a comparative randomized trial conducted in the population as long as treatment assignment in the trial is independent of the predictive marker. Estimating the SI curve is therefore part of a post hoc analysis to determine whether the marker identifies patients that are more likely to benefit from one treatment over another. Nonparametric and parametric estimates of the SI curve are proposed in this article. Asymptotic distribution theory is used to evaluate the relative efficiencies of the estimators. Simulation studies show that inference is straightforward with realistic sample sizes. We illustrate the SI curve and statistical inference for it with data motivated by an ongoing trial of surgery versus conservative therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
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Keywords: Biomarkers; Classification; Effect modification; Statistical interaction

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-12-01

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