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Epidemiology. 2016 May;27(3):347-55. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000000450.

A Bayesian Method for Cluster Detection with Application to Brain and Breast Cancer in Puget Sound.

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From the aMathematics Department, Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT; and bDepartments of Statistics and Biostatistics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.


Cluster detection is an important public health endeavor, and in this article, we describe and apply a recently developed Bayesian method. Commonly used approaches are based on so-called scan statistics and suffer from a number of difficulties, which include how to choose a level of significance and how to deal with the possibility of multiple clusters. The basis of our model is to partition the study region into a set of areas that are either "null" or "non-null," the latter corresponding to clusters (excess risk) or anticlusters (reduced risk). We demonstrate the Bayesian method and compare with a popular existing approach, using data on breast, brain, lung, prostate, and colorectal cancer, in the Puget Sound region of Washington State.

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