A web tool for age-period-cohort analysis of cancer incidence and mortality rates

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014 Nov;23(11):2296-302. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-14-0300. Epub 2014 Aug 21.


Background: Age-period-cohort (APC) analysis can inform registry-based studies of cancer incidence and mortality, but concerns about statistical identifiability and interpretability, as well as the learning curves of statistical software packages, have limited its uptake.

Methods: We implemented a panel of easy-to-interpret estimable APC functions and corresponding Wald tests in R code that can be accessed through a user-friendly Web tool.

Results: Input data for the Web tool consist of age-specific numbers of events and person-years over time, in the form of a rate matrix of paired columns. Output functions include model-based estimators of cross-sectional and longitudinal age-specific rates, period and cohort rate ratios that incorporate the overall annual percentage change (net drift), and estimators of the age-specific annual percentage change (local drifts). The Web tool includes built-in examples for teaching and demonstration. User data can be input from a Microsoft Excel worksheet or by uploading a comma-separated-value file. Model outputs can be saved in a variety of formats, including R and Excel.

Conclusions: APC methodology can now be carried out through a freely available user-friendly Web tool. The tool can be accessed at http://analysistools.nci.nih.gov/apc/.

Impact: The Web tool can help cancer surveillance researchers make important discoveries about emerging cancer trends and patterns.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Cohort Studies
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Internet*
  • Learning Curve
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Software*