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BACKGROUND: China has the largest burden of esophageal cancer (EC). Prediction models can be used to identify high-risk individuals for intensive lifestyle interventions and endoscopy screening. However, the current prediction models are limited by small sample size and a lack of external validation, and none of them can be embedded into the booming electronic health records (EHRs) in China. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to develop and validate absolute risk prediction models for EC in the Chinese population. In particular, we assessed whether models that contain only EHR-available predictors performed well. METHODS: A prospective cohort recruiting 510,145 participants free of cancer from both high EC-risk and low EC-risk areas in China was used to develop EC models. Another prospective cohort of 18,441 participants was used for validation. A flexible parametric model was used to develop a 10-year absolute risk model by considering the competing risks (full model). The full model was then abbreviated by keeping only EHR-available predictors. We internally and externally validated the models by using the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) and calibration plots and compared them based on classification measures. RESULTS: During a median of 11.1 years of follow-up, we observed 2550 EC incident cases. The models consisted of age, sex, regional EC-risk level (high-risk areas: 2 study regions; low-risk areas: 8 regions), education, family history of cancer (simple model), smoking, alcohol use, BMI (intermediate model), physical activity, hot tea consumption, and fresh fruit consumption (full model). The performance was only slightly compromised after the abbreviation. The simple and intermediate models showed good calibration and excellent discriminating ability with AUCs (95% CIs) of 0.822 (0.783-0.861) and 0.830 (0.792-0.867) in the external validation and 0.871 (0.858-0.884) and 0.879 (0.867-0.892) in the internal validation, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Three nested 10-year EC absolute risk prediction models for Chinese adults aged 30-79 years were developed and validated, which may be particularly useful for populations in low EC-risk areas. Even the simple model with only 5 predictors available from EHRs had excellent discrimination and good calibration, indicating its potential for broader use in tailored EC prevention. The simple and intermediate models have the potential to be widely used for both primary and secondary prevention of EC.

Original publication




Journal article


JMIR Public Health Surveill

Publication Date





China, absolute risk, development, electronic health record, esophageal cancer, external validation, prediction model, primary prevention, prospective cohort, screening, Adult, Humans, East Asian People, Electronic Health Records, Esophageal Neoplasms, Prospective Studies, ROC Curve, Middle Aged, Aged