Using machine learning to predict individual patient toxicities from cancer treatments Academic Article uri icon

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  • Abstract Purpose Machine learning (ML) is a powerful tool for interrogating datasets and learning relationships between multiple variables. We utilized a ML model to identify those early breast cancer (EBC) patients at highest risk of developing severe vasomotor symptoms (VMS). Methods A gradient boosted decision model utilizing cross-sectional survey data from 360 EBC patients was created. Seventeen patient- and treatment-specific variables were considered in the model. The outcome variable was based on the Hot Flush Night Sweats (HFNS) Problem Rating Score, and individual scores were dichotomized around the median to indicate individuals with high and low problem scores. Model accuracy was assessed using the area under the receiver operating curve, and conditional partial dependence plots were constructed to illustrate relationships between variables and the outcome of interest. Results The model area under the ROC curve was 0.731 (SD 0.074). The most important variables in the model were as follows: the number of hot flashes per week, age, the prescription, or use of drug interventions to manage VMS, whether patients were asked about VMS in routine follow-up visits, and the presence or absence of changes to breast cancer treatments due to VMS. A threshold of 17 hot flashes per week was identified as being more predictive of severe VMS. Patients between the ages of 49 and 63 were more likely to report severe symptoms. Conclusion Machine learning is a unique tool for predicting severe VMS. The use of ML to assess other treatment-related toxicities and their management requires further study.


  • Cole, Katherine Marie
  • Clemons, Mark
  • McGee, Sharon
  • Alzahrani, Mashari
  • Larocque, Gail
  • MacDonald, Fiona
  • Liu, Michelle
  • Pond, Gregory
  • Mosquera, Lucy
  • Vandermeer, Lisa
  • Hutton, Brian
  • Piper, Ardelle
  • Fernandes, Ricardo
  • Emam, Khaled El

publication date

  • September 2022