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May 4, 2024

Oral Cancer Costs India $5.6 Billion in Productivity Loss in 2022: Study

A recent study conducted by the Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), a leading cancer treatment and research institute in India, has shed light on the staggering economic impact of oral cancer on the country. According to the study, the productivity loss due to oral cancer in 2022 amounted to approximately $5.6 billion.

India shoulders a significant burden of oral cancer globally, contributing to two-thirds of the total mortality. Moreover, the study highlights that India’s population at risk is relatively younger compared to other countries.

Analyzing data from 100 patients treated between 2019 and 2020 with a follow-up period of 36 months, the study found that the median age of patients at diagnosis was 47 years, with the majority being male. The disease-specific survival rates were 85% for early-stage and 70% for advanced-stage cancer.

The research, led by Dr. Arjun Singh, Associate Professor at TMC, revealed that the productivity loss due to premature mortality was significant. With a total of 671 years lost prematurely among the studied cases, the loss of productivity amounted to $41,900 for early-stage and $96,044 for advanced-stage cases. Extrapolating these figures to the population level, the total cost of premature mortality due to oral cancer in 2022 was estimated at $5.6 billion, which accounts for 0.18% of India’s GDP.

Dr. Singh pointed out that as India’s retirement age is around 62 years, 91% of deaths or incurable recurrence of cancers occurred in premature age groups, with a median age of 41.5 years. Both early (70%) and advanced (86%) stage cancers were prevalent among individuals from middle-class socioeconomic backgrounds, with 53% requiring some form of insurance schemes or financial support to complete treatment.

The study utilized the human capital approach to calculate productivity lost due to premature mortality. It found that the productivity loss per death was Rs 57,22,803 for females and Rs 71,83,917 for males.

These findings underscore the urgent need for comprehensive strategies to tackle oral cancer in India. Prevention, early detection, and affordable treatment options are crucial to reduce the economic and societal burden of this disease. Moreover, addressing the socioeconomic barriers to accessing healthcare is essential to ensure that all individuals receive timely and adequate care.

In conclusion, oral cancer not only takes a heavy toll on individuals and families but also imposes a substantial economic burden on the nation. By prioritizing public health initiatives and investing in cancer care infrastructure, India can mitigate the productivity loss and improve outcomes for patients affected by this preventable disease.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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