Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Mathematics and Statistics

Major Professor

Christos P. Tsokos, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kandethody M. Ramachandran, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Getachew Dagne, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lu Lu, Ph.D.


Cox regression model, parametric analysis, racial disparities, survival analysis


The objective of the present study is to investigate key aspects of ovarian and breast cancers, which are two main causes of mortality among women. Identification of the true behavior of survivorship and influential risk factors is essential in designing treatment protocols, increasing disease awareness and preventing possible causes of disease. There is a commonly held belief that African Americans have a higher risk of cancer mortality. We studied racial disparities of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer on overall and disease-free survival and found out that there is no significant difference in the survival experience among the three races: Whites, African Americans and Other races. Tumor sizes at diagnosis among the races were significantly different, as African American women tend to have larger ovarian tumor sizes at the diagnosis. Prognostic models play a major role in health data research. They can be used to estimate adjusted survival probabilities and absolute and relative risks, and to determine significantly contributing risk factors. A prognostic model will be a valuable tool only if it is developed carefully, evaluating the underlying model assumptions and inadequacies and determining if the most relevant model to address the study objectives is selected. In the present study we developed such statistical models for survival data of ovarian and breast cancers. We found that the histology of ovarian cancer had risk ratios that vary over time. We built two types of parametric models to estimate absolute risks and survival probabilities and to adjust the time dependency of the relative risk of Histology. One parametric model is based on classical probability distributions and the other is a more flexible parametric model that estimates the baseline cumulative hazard function using spline functions. In contrast to women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, women with breast cancer showed significantly different survivorship among races where Whites had a poorer overall survival rate compared to African Americans and Other races. In the breast cancer study, we identified that age and progesterone receptor status have time dependent hazard ratios and age and tumor size display non-linear effects on the hazard. We adjusted those non-proportional hazards and non-linear effects by using an extended Cox regression model in order to generate more meaningful interpretations of the data.