The University of Wisconsin Breast Cancer Epidemiology Simulation Model: An Update

Oguzhan Alagoz*, Mehmet Ali Ergun, Mucahit Cevik, Brian L. Sprague, Dennis G. Fryback, Ronald E. Gangnon, John M. Hampton, Natasha K. Stout, Amy Trentham-Dietz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The University of Wisconsin Breast Cancer Epidemiology Simulation Model (UWBCS), also referred to as Model W, is a discrete-event microsimulation model that uses a systems engineering approach to replicate breast cancer epidemiology in the US over time. This population-based model simulates the lifetimes of individual women through 4 main model components: breast cancer natural history, detection, treatment, and mortality. A key feature of the UWBCS is that, in addition to specifying a population distribution in tumor growth rates, the model allows for heterogeneity in tumor behavior, with some tumors having limited malignant potential (i.e., would never become fatal in a woman’s lifetime if left untreated) and some tumors being very aggressive based on metastatic spread early in their onset. The model is calibrated to Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) breast cancer incidence and mortality data from 1975 to 2010, and cross-validated against data from the Wisconsin cancer reporting system. The UWBCS model generates detailed outputs including underlying disease states and observed clinical outcomes by age and calendar year, as well as costs, resource usage, and quality of life associated with screening and treatment. The UWBCS has been recently updated to account for differences in breast cancer detection, treatment, and survival by molecular subtypes (defined by ER/HER2 status), to reflect the recent advances in screening and treatment, and to consider a range of breast cancer risk factors, including breast density, race, body-mass-index, and the use of postmenopausal hormone therapy. Therefore, the model can evaluate novel screening strategies, such as risk-based screening, and can assess breast cancer outcomes by breast cancer molecular subtype. In this article, we describe the most up-to-date version of the UWBCS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99S-111S
JournalMedical Decision Making
Issue number1_suppl
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • breast cancer
  • incidence
  • screening
  • simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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