Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Measuring the benefit of screening mammography is difficult due to lead-time bias, length bias and over-detection. We evaluated the benefit of screening mammography in reducing breast cancer mortality using observational data from the SEER-Medicare linked database. The conceptual model divided the disease duration into two phases: preclinical (T(0)) and symptomatic (T(1)) breast cancer. Censored information for the bivariate response vector ( T(0), T(1)) was observed and used to generate a likelihood function. However, the contribution to the likelihood function for some observations could not be calculated analytically, thus, censoring boundaries for these observations were modified. Inferences about the impact of screening mammography on breast cancer mortality were made based on maximum likelihood estimates derived from this likelihood function. Hazard ratios (95% confidence intervals) of 0.54 (0.48-0.61) and 0.33 (0.26- 0.42) for single and regular users (vs. non-users), respectively, demonstrated a protective effect of screening mammography among women 69 years and older. This method reduced the impact of lead-time bias, length bias and over-detection, which biased the estimated hazard ratios derived from standard survival models in favour of screening.

Original publication




Journal article


Stat Methods Med Res

Publication Date





643 - 663


Aged, Analysis of Variance, Bias, Biometry, Breast Neoplasms, Data Interpretation, Statistical, Databases, Factual, Female, Humans, Likelihood Functions, Mammography, Mass Screening, Medicare, Models, Statistical, SEER Program, Time Factors, United States