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India spent almost Rs 2,386 crore on treatment of oral cancer in 2020, finds study-Health News , FP

Over the next ten years, oral cancer is expected to add an additional economic burden of Rs 23,724 crore on India, which accounted for almost a third of the total cases in 2020

India spent almost Rs 2,386 crore on treatment of oral cancer in 2020, finds study

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Indians spent almost Rs 2,386 crores on oral cancer treatment in the year 2020, a new study has revealed.

These expenses, researchers said, were paid for by either insurance schemes, government aid, private sector spending, out of pocket payments, charitable donations or a combination of them.

Further, if left unchecked, the study conducted by Tata Memorial Centre, and published in the journal ecancersaid that the treatment for oral cancer would add an additional economic burden of Rs 23,724 crores on Indians over the next ten years. And that is without including inflation.

The study was conducted by Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, Dr Devendra Chaukar, Dr Sudeep Gupta, Dr CS Pramesh, Dr Richard Sullivan, Dr Rajendra Badwe and Dr Arjun Singh from Tata Memorial Centre.

Cancer is the leading cause of death globally according to the World Health Organization. Around 70 percent of cancer cases occur in low and middle-income countries.

India accounted for almost a third of oral cancer cases in 2020. The situation is worsened by an inability to afford care or insufficient aid as costing is based on informal estimations.

Badwe, who is also director of Tata Memorial Centre said, “As per the GLOBOCAN statistics, the rate of new cases being diagnosed has increased by a staggering 68 percent in the past two decades alone, making oral cancer a real public health crisis.”

According to a press statement, around 10 percent of the patients have a progressive disease that can’t be treated and only supportive care can be given.

People who receive treatment are often left unemployed and become a burden to their families. Though government schemes and other monetary aids are available, they do not provide for the entire treatment. Many patients have to pay for treatment out of their own pocket and it pushes them and their families into a never-ending cycle of debt.

“Accessibility to health services is low, which coupled with poor health literacy results in a majority of cases presenting with an advanced-stage disease that is often difficult to treat,” added Badwe.

Cost of treatment

The study breaks down the cost of oral cancer illness to give both the government and patients a better sense of understanding of where their money is being spent.

As per the study, the cost of treating advanced stages is Rs 2,02,892 and is 42 percent higher than treating oral cancer in its early stages which is Rs 1,17,135. About 60-80 percent of the cases of oral cancer visit their specialist oncologists at advanced stages, the study said.

Medical equipment accounts for 97.8 percent with radiology services, like CT, MRI, and PET scans contributing the most. As people’s socioeconomic position improved, unit costs decreased by an average of 11 percent.

Variable expenses, which included consumables for surgery, were 1.4 times greater in advanced phases than in early stages. The average cost of treatment jumped by 44.6 percent when further chemo and radiotherapy were added to the surgery.

With this cost bifurcation in mind and as mentioned above, India will face an economic burden of Rs 23,724 crores over the next ten years if something is not done to curb spending.

This study was undertaken with the goal of providing the government with invaluable information to help allocate resources towards cancer.

A long-term solution is fixing the root cause of oral cancer. A majority of oral cancers stem from some form of tobacco and areca nut usage. Limiting or stopping tobacco consumption is a necessary first step.

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