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      A practical guide to understanding Kaplan-Meier curves

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          Abstract

          In 1958, Edward L. Kaplan and Paul Meier collaborated to publish a seminal paper on how to deal with incomplete observations. Subsequently, the Kaplan-Meier curves and estimates of survival data have become a familiar way of dealing with differing survival times (times-to-event), especially when not all the subjects continue in the study. "Survival" times need not relate to actual survival with death being the event; the "event" may be any event of interest. Kaplan-Meier analyses are also used in nonmedical disciplines. The purpose of this article is to explain how Kaplan-Meier curves are generated and analyzed. Throughout this article, we will discuss Kaplan-Meier estimates in the context of "survival" before the event of interest. Two small groups of hypothetical data are used as examples in order for the reader to clearly see how the process works. These examples also illustrate the crucially important point that comparative analysis depends upon the whole curve and not upon isolated points. Copyright 2010 American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

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          Cautionary Note Regarding the Use of CIs Obtained From Kaplan-Meier Survival Curves

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            Author and article information

            Journal
            Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery
            Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg
            Elsevier BV
            0194-5998
            1097-6817
            September 2010
            September 2010
            September 2010
            September 2010
            : 143
            : 3
            : 331-336
            Affiliations
            [1 ]From the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO.
            Article
            10.1016/j.otohns.2010.05.007
            3932959
            20723767
            © 2010

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