The economic burden of oral squamous cell carcinoma in Australia

Katherine Pollaers, Ian Massingham, Peter L. Friedland, Camile S. Farah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The financial burden of treatment for oral squamous cell carcinoma in Australia has never been reported, and there is a paucity of international data. Here, we report the direct costs of treatment of surgically resectable oral cancer in a tertiary public hospital in Australia over a 15-year period. Materials and Methods: Pathology department records, records of hospital attendance and hospital finance department records were interrogated to determine the direct costs of inpatient and outpatient treatment. Costs were adjusted using the total health price index so that all costs were equivalent to costings for the 2016/2017 financial year. Results: A total of 113 cases were identified as suitable for inclusion. Complete inpatient and outpatient hospital attendance and costing data for treatment and subsequent 2-year follow-up was available for 29 cases. The average total cost over the 2-year period was $92 958AUD (median $102 722, range $11 662-$181 512). On average, 92.8% of costs were incurred in the first year post-diagnosis. Inpatient costs, outpatient costs and total costs increased with increasing pathological cancer stage. Both 1- and 2-year post-diagnosis overall cost for patients with Stage 4 oral cavity cancer were more than two times greater than for patients with Stage 1 oral cancer. Conclusion: It is well documented that patients diagnosed at an earlier stage will have better survival outcomes, and it is assumed that the economic burden of their treatment will be less. We have shown that there is a direct correlation between cancer stage and cancer treatment cost. The findings provide clear economic support for oral cancer screening initiatives to detect earlier stage cancers, and the need to investigate novel techniques and technologies to detect oral squamous cell carcinoma early and reduce recurrence and mortality rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)588-594
Number of pages7
JournalJournal Of Oral Pathology and Medicine
Issue number7
Early online date27 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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