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Artif Intell Med. 2005 Jun;34(2):113-27.

Predicting breast cancer survivability: a comparison of three data mining methods.

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Department of Management Science and Information Systems, Oklahoma State University, 700 North Greenwood Venue, Tulsa, OK 74106, USA.



The prediction of breast cancer survivability has been a challenging research problem for many researchers. Since the early dates of the related research, much advancement has been recorded in several related fields. For instance, thanks to innovative biomedical technologies, better explanatory prognostic factors are being measured and recorded; thanks to low cost computer hardware and software technologies, high volume better quality data is being collected and stored automatically; and finally thanks to better analytical methods, those voluminous data is being processed effectively and efficiently. Therefore, the main objective of this manuscript is to report on a research project where we took advantage of those available technological advancements to develop prediction models for breast cancer survivability.


We used two popular data mining algorithms (artificial neural networks and decision trees) along with a most commonly used statistical method (logistic regression) to develop the prediction models using a large dataset (more than 200,000 cases). We also used 10-fold cross-validation methods to measure the unbiased estimate of the three prediction models for performance comparison purposes.


The results indicated that the decision tree (C5) is the best predictor with 93.6% accuracy on the holdout sample (this prediction accuracy is better than any reported in the literature), artificial neural networks came out to be the second with 91.2% accuracy and the logistic regression models came out to be the worst of the three with 89.2% accuracy.


The comparative study of multiple prediction models for breast cancer survivability using a large dataset along with a 10-fold cross-validation provided us with an insight into the relative prediction ability of different data mining methods. Using sensitivity analysis on neural network models provided us with the prioritized importance of the prognostic factors used in the study.

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