Sieve estimation in a Markov illness-death process under dual censoring.Biostatistics 2016; 17(2):350-63B
Semiparametric methods are well established for the analysis of a progressive Markov illness-death process observed up to a noninformative right censoring time. However, often the intermediate and terminal events are censored in different ways, leading to a dual censoring scheme. In such settings, unbiased estimation of the cumulative transition intensity functions cannot be achieved without some degree of smoothing. To overcome this problem, we develop a sieve maximum likelihood approach for inference on the hazard ratio. A simulation study shows that the sieve estimator offers improved finite-sample performance over common imputation-based alternatives and is robust to some forms of dependent censoring. The proposed method is illustrated using data from cancer trials.