Evaluating High-Dimensional Machine Learning Models to Predict Hospital Mortality Among Older Patients With Cancer.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Older hospitalized cancer patients face high risks of hospital mortality. Improved risk stratification could help identify high-risk patients who may benefit from future interventions, although we lack validated tools to predict in-hospital mortality for patients with cancer. We evaluated the ability of a high-dimensional machine learning prediction model to predict inpatient mortality and compared the performance of this model to existing prediction indices.


We identified patients with cancer older than 75 years from the National Emergency Department Sample between 2016 and 2018. We constructed a high-dimensional predictive model called Cancer Frailty Assessment Tool (cFAST), which used an extreme gradient boosting algorithm to predict in-hospital mortality. cFAST model inputs included patient demographic, hospital variables, and diagnosis codes. Model performance was assessed with an area under the curve (AUC) from receiver operating characteristic curves, with an AUC of 1.0 indicating perfect prediction. We compared model performance to existing indices including the Modified 5-Item Frailty Index, Charlson comorbidity index, and Hospital Frailty Risk Score.


We identified 2,723,330 weighted emergency department visits among older patients with cancer, of whom 144,653 (5.3%) died in the hospital. Our cFAST model included 240 features and demonstrated an AUC of 0.92. Comparator models including the Modified 5-Item Frailty Index, Charlson comorbidity index, and Hospital Frailty Risk Score achieved AUCs of 0.58, 0.62, and 0.71, respectively. Predictive features of the cFAST model included acute conditions (respiratory failure and shock), chronic conditions (lipidemia and hypertension), patient demographics (age and sex), and cancer and treatment characteristics (metastasis and palliative care).


High-dimensional machine learning models enabled accurate prediction of in-hospital mortality among older patients with cancer, outperforming existing prediction indices. These models show promise in identifying patients at risk of severe adverse outcomes, although additional validation and research studying clinical implementation of these tools is needed.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Qiao, EM; Qian, AS; Nalawade, V; Voora, RS; Kotha, NV; Vitzthum, LK; Murphy, JD

Published Date

  • June 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 6 /

Start / End Page

  • e2100186 -

PubMed ID

  • 35671416

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC9225681

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2473-4276

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2473-4276

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1200/cci.21.00186


  • eng