Oral Cancer Treatment Cost: The Costs & Expenses Explained

oral cancer treatment cost

Oral cancer treatment cost is quite high that even the best health insurance won’t cover all your costs. Oral cancer has been recognized as a significant health hazard that needs complex life-saving or life-prolonging treatment options. The total cost for oral cancer treatment cannot be predetermined, because the treatment options and required expenses varies for each patient.

The fact that healthcare costs are rising fast (above inflation rate) has contributed greatly to the high expenses associated with treating advanced cancer. In addition, the introduction of new diagnostic, pharmacological and treatment technologies of the last decade, contribute towards such high costs. (1)

Having a good knowledge about oral cancer and the available treatment options, can help you to know what to expect before your treatment starts. Knowing what to expect can also help you to plan for the costs. Oral cancer can develop at any part of the mouth. 90 percent of cancers occur in the oral cavity, they can occur on your lips, the inside of your lips and cheeks, gums, tongue, roof and floor of the mouth, or oropharynx.

Every oral cancer patient is different, with the help of different diagnosis procedures the doctors are able to develop treatment plans tailored to each patient’s specific type of oral cancer.

Below are some of the factors that may determine your oral cancer treatment cost.

1. Which part of the oral cavity is involved. Oral cancer can occur in your tonsils, throat, tongue, gum, lips, gums, jaw and palate. The cost varies greatly depending on which part of the oral cavity or oropharynx was affected. The stage and the extent which the cancer has spread also matters.

2. The treatment options required. 

Here are some of the available treatments options:

Surgery – If it turns out that surgery will be needed, the cost may vary depending on the type of surgery that will be done. Sometimes, there may be need for the removal of some part of the lower Jaw or upper jaw followed by reconstruction.

Chemotherapy – chemotherapy and targeted therapy requires the use of strong, effective oral chemo drugs. These chemo drugs are regular prescription drugs that you can take on your own, anytime at home. Most health insurance plans don’t pay for the chemo drugs the same way they pay for the IV drugs. Moreover, oral chemo drugs cost up to many thousands of dollars each month. The cost varies depending on what kind of chemo drugs that were recommended and you have to pay when you pick up the drugs at the pharmacy.

Radiotherapy – Radiotherapy uses doses of radiation to kill cancerous cells. The treatment is usually given every day over the course of 6 weeks, depending on the size of the cancer and how far it’s spread. The cost of radiotherapy also varies from patient to patients depending on what application of radiotherapy is involved. If the patient is immobile due to any reason and cannot come daily for OPD Radiotherapy, the cost of hospitalization will add up to the radiotherapy bill. (2)

3. Other required medical expenses. According to Cancer.org, most oral cancer patients have medical expenses for things like:

  • Hospital stays (which can include many types of costs such as drugs, tests, and procedures as well as nursing care, doctor visits, and consults with specialists)
  • Home care (can include equipment, drugs, visits from specially trained nurses, and more)
  • Lab tests (blood tests, urine tests, and more, which are usually billed separately)
  • Imaging tests (like x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, which may mean separate bills for radiologist fees, equipment, and any medicines used for the test)
  • Drug costs (inpatient, outpatient, prescription, non-prescription, and procedure-related)
  • Procedures (for diagnosis or treatment, which can include room charges, equipment, different doctors, and more).

Final Thoughts

The clinical management of advanced oral cancer is strongly associated with higher costs. The mean total direct costs of oral cancer treatment is estimated at euro 8,450 or approximately 7,450 USD. The total costs depends on some the factors that I listed above. However, early diagnosis and early treatment seems the most efficient way to reduce costs, and most importantly, prolong life.

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