Cancer health disparities due to demographic and socioeconomic factors are an area of great interest in the epidemiological community. Adjusting for such factors is important when developing cancer risk models. However, for digital epidemiology studies relying on online sources such information is not readily available. This paper presents a novel method for extracting demographic and socioeconomic information from openly available online obituaries. The method relies on tailored language processing rules and a probabilistic scheme to map subjects’ occupation history to the occupation classification codes and related earnings provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. Using this information, a case-control study is executed fully in silico to investigate how age, gender, parity, and income level impact breast and lung cancer risk. Based on 48,368 online obituaries (4,643 for breast cancer, 6,274 for lung cancer, and 37,451 cancer-free) collected automatically and a generalized cancer risk model, our study shows strong association between age, parity, and socioeconomic status and cancer risk. Although for breast cancer the observed trends are very consistent with traditional epidemiological studies, some inconsistency is observed for lung cancer with respect to socioeconomic status.
Yoon, Hong-Jun and Tourassi, Georgia
"Investigating Sociodemographic Disparities in Cancer Risk Using Web-Based Informatics,"
Journal of Human Performance in Extreme Environments: Vol. 14
Available at: https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/jhpee/vol14/iss1/2