A prospective study to determine the cost of illness for oral cancer in India

17 Jun 2021
Arjun Gurmeet Singh, Devendra Chaukar, Sudeep Gupta, CS Pramesh, Richard Sullivan, Pankaj Chaturvedi, Rajendra Badwe

India accounts for almost a third of the global burden of oral cancer, a situation worsened by the inability to afford care. When available, aid is often insufficient, and costing is based on informal estimations. This study objectively determines direct healthcare costs of oral cancer in India. The study was performed from a healthcare provider’s perspective using a validated bottom-up method. Care pathways were determined by prospectively observing the natural management of 100 oral cancer patients treated between October 2019 and March 2020. Specific costing categories were built across services, and apportioned values for each interaction was averaged. Costs of treatment and service utilisation were obtained using probabilistic sensitivity analyses. The unit cost of treating advanced stages (United States Dollar (USD) 2,717) was found to be 42% greater than early stages (USD1,568). There was an 11% reduction in unit costs with increases in socioeconomic status. Medical equipment accounted for 97.8% of capital costs, with the highest contributor being imaging services. Variable costs for surgery in advanced stages were 1.4 times higher than early stages. Compared to surgery alone, the average cost of treatment increased by 44.6% with adjuvant therapy. These results show that over the next decade, India will incur an economic burden of USD 3 billion towards the direct healthcare of oral cancer. Early detection and prevention strategies leading to 20% reduction in advanced stage disease could save USD 30 million annually. These results are critical to deliver a disease-driven and objective reform for oral cancer care.

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