Faculty Advisor

Homer Walker

Faculty Advisor

Balgobin Nandram

Faculty Advisor

Hyunjoong Kim


"We analyze mortality data from prostate, colon, lung, and all other types (called other cancer) to obtain age specific and age adjusted mortality rates for white males in the U.S. A related problem is to estimate the relative occurrences of these four types of cancer. We use Bayesian method because it permits a degree of smoothing which is needed to analyze data at a small area level and to assess the patterns. In the recent Atlas of the United States Mortality (1996) each type of cancer was analyzed individually. The difficulty in doing so is that there are many small areas with zero deaths. We conjecture that simultaneous analyses might help to overcome this problem, and at the same time to estimate the relative occurrences. We start with a Poisson model for the deaths, which produces a likelihood function that separates into two parts: a Poisson likelihood for the rates and a multinomial likelihood for the relative occurrences. These permit the use of a standard Poisson regression model on age as in Nandram, Sedransk and Pickle (1999), and the novelty is a multivariate logit model on the relative occurrences in which per capita income, the percent of people below poverty level, education (percent of people with four years of college) and two criteria pollutants, EPAPM25 and EPASO2, are used as covariates. We fitted the models using Markov chain Monte Carlo methods. We used one of the models to present maps of occurrences and rates for the four types. An alternative model did not work well because it provides the same pattern by age and disease. We found that while EPAPM25 has a negative effect on the occurrences, EPASO2 has a positive effect. Also, we found some interesting patterns associated with the geographical variations of mortality rates and the relative occurrences of the four cancer types."


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Mathematical Sciences

Project Type


Date Accepted





Bayesian method, mapping, Bayesian statistical decision theory, Cancer, Statistics