(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Oral cancer is the most costly to treat, according to research coming out of Delta Dental of Michigan’s Research and Data Institute, Okemos, MI. The study, entitled “The Cost Burden of Oral, Oral Pharyngeal, and Salivary Gland Cancers in Three Groups: Commercial Insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid,” was published in Head & Neck Oncology on April 26.

Head and neck cancers are associated with significant morbidity, including payments to health care providers, health care services, and health insurance; furthermore, approximately half of H&N cancer survivors return to work. “Consequently the economic burden of oral cavity, oral pharyngeal, and salivary gland cancer (OC/OP/SG) must be understood,” the investigators noted.

The investigators performed a retrospective analysis of administrative claims data for 6,812 OC/OP/SG cancer patients. Total annual health care spending was compared between OC/OP/SG cancer patients and those without these cancer types. Enrollees were covered by one of three medical insurance types: commercial insurance, Medicare, and/or Medicaid.

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“Total annual health care spending for OC/OP/SG patients during the year after the index diagnosis was $79,151 for the commercial population,” the investigators wrote. “Health care costs were higher for OC/OP/SG cancer patients with commercial Insurance ($71,732, n=3,918), Medicare ($35,890, n=2,303) and Medicaid ($44,541, n=585) than the comparison group (all P<0.01).”

The investigators concluded: “…the cost of OC/OP/SG cancer is significant and may be the most costly cancer to treat in the US.”