Multiplying the cost per unit of early and advanced cancer based on the results of one study, India spent approximately Rs 2,386 crore in 2020 on oral cancer treatment, paid for by insurance plans, the government and the private sector, out-of-pocket costs and charitable donations or a combination of these.
This is a significant part of the health care budget allocation made by the government in 2019-20, towards a single disease. Without any cost inflation, this will result in an economic burden on the country of Rs 23,724 crore for the next ten years.
Tata Memorial Center published the first study of its kind on the cost of disease and treatment of oral cancer in India.
“This strained economic impact of oral cancer treatment strongly suggests that prevention should be one of the key mitigation strategies to address affordability,” the study said, adding that almost all oral cancers are caused by some form of tobacco and the use of areca nuts, either directly. or as a second-hand intake.
It is very important that our country take the appropriate measures to curb this threat and mitigate the economic burden caused by just one of the hundreds of diseases caused by tobacco use, he said.
“Early detection strategies leading to a reduction of only 20% in late-stage disease could save almost Rs 250 million a year.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the study further said that cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, with about 70 percent of cases occurring in low- and middle-income countries.
“The cancer scene in India is fraught with oral cavity cancer being the most common among men. In fact, India accounted for almost a third of the global incidence in 2020. “
Dr. RA Badwe, Director of the Tata Memorial Center, said: “According to statistics from GLOBOCAN, the rate of newly diagnosed cases has increased by a staggering 68% in the last two decades alone, making it a true crisis of public health.
“To add to this, accessibility to health services is low, which coupled with poor health awareness results in most cases presenting with late-stage disease that is often difficult to treat.”
About 10 percent of patients have a progressive disease that makes them untreatable and can only be offered supportive care for their symptoms.
Most of those who receive some type of treatment are unemployed and become a financial burden on their friends and family. Even patients with health insurance and / or government assistance, who are generally considered immune to the cost of health care, face serious challenges as most schemes do not provide the actual amount needed for treatment.
This eventually increases their out-of-pocket expenses, pushing a significant proportion of the patients themselves and their families into a never-ending cycle of debt.
To address these issues, a team from the Tata Memorial Center, led by Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi, set out to conduct a cost-of-disease analysis that would provide invaluable information for policymakers appropriately allocating resources to cancer.
This is the first study of its kind in India and among a few globally, the estimates of which were calculated using a bottom-up approach where data was collected prospectively for each service as it was used.
This huge collection of data has made it possible to determine the direct healthcare costs of oral cancer treatment, that is, the cost per patient borne by a healthcare provider that is directly attributable to oral cancer treatment.
Dr Arjun Singh, a researcher at Tata Memorial Hospital and lead author of the study, said the unit cost of treatment for the advanced stages (Rs 2.02,892) was found to be 42% higher than the early stages (1.17. 135 rupees).
At the same time, there was an average 11 percent reduction in unit costs, as socioeconomic status increased.
Medical equipment accounted for 97.8 percent of capital costs, with the largest contributor being radiology services that included CT, MRI, and positron emission tomography.
Variable costs including consumables for late-stage surgery were 1.4 times higher than early-stage surgery, the study said, adding that “with the addition of additional chemotherapy and radiation therapy to surgery, the average cost of treatment increased by 44.6 percent. “
“About 60-80 percent of oral cancer cases visit their specialist oncologists in advanced stages.” – IANS
rak / dpb
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