The ever increasing cost of oral cancer treatment in India

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The ever increasing cost of oral cancer treatment in India


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Early detection and prevention of oral cancer will be critical in reducing the economic burden of the disease.
Divyesh Mundra, Dental Tribune South Asia

By Divyesh Mundra, Dental Tribune South Asia

Tue. 6 July 2021


India spent approximately INR 2,386 crore on oral cancer treatment in 2020, which will increase to more than INR 23,000 crore in the next ten years.

These numbers have been revealed in a study conducted by a team of senior oncologists from the Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) in collaboration with Guy's Hospital, London, UK. "A prospective study to determine the cost of illness for oral cancer in India" - is the first-ever study in India on costs of treating oral cancer in India, published in the journal E-cancer.

India accounts for almost a third of oral cancer's global incidence and the rate has increased by 68% in the past two decades, making it the most common cancer among Indian males. For this reason, the current study holds great significance.

Researchers conducted the study from a healthcare provider’s perspective using a validated bottom-up method. Treatment costs and service utilization were obtained using probabilistic sensitivity analyses. 

Findings of the study:

  1. Total INR 16,001,368 (USD 214,237) was the direct healthcare cost to treat 100 patients with oral cancer. 
    • Of this, the salaries of healthcare personnel contributed the highest (56.9%) to the total costs. Next were the variable (24.2%) and capital (18.9%) costs. 
    • The personnel costs for OT (27.1%) were the highest followed by the IPD (24%)
    • Medical equipment, with MRI imaging being the highest, accounted for 97.8% of capital costs.
  2. The unit cost of treating early-stage disease was INR 1,17,135 that jumped to INR 202,892 for advanced-stage disease. Also, compared to the early stage, the variable costs for oral cancer surgery in advanced stages were 1.4 times higher.
  3. The average cost of oral cancer treatment increased by 44.6% with adjuvant therapy compared to surgery alone.

Early detection and prevention are critical. They can help with a 20% reduction in advanced-stage disease, which could save India Rs 223 crores annually.


Dr. Divyesh Mundra (BDS) completed his Masters in Public Health (MPH) Administration from the School of Health Systems Studies (SHSS),  Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai. He is a healthcare management professional having 5 years of diverse experience across hospital administration, patient advocacy, public health policy, and implementation of public health programs. Divyesh actively tweets on challenges confronting the Indian healthcare system including medical and dental education.

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One thought on “The ever increasing cost of oral cancer treatment in India

  1. Girish Kumar Innani says:

    Excellent eye opner Article.

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