Economic Burden of Cancer Treatment in a Region in South India: A Cross Sectional Analytical Study

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, JIPMER, India.

2 Department of Radiation Oncology, JIPMER, India.


Introduction: The rising cost of cancer diagnosis and treatment has imposed a huge financial burden on the affected households. Understanding the nature of this burden will help us to formulate plans to avoid financial distress among the same. Objective: The study aims to estimate the Out of Pocket Expenditure (OOPE) for the management of selected solid cancers among the Out-Patient Department (OPD) of Regional Cancer Centre in South India and to determine the proportion of families experiencing Catastrophic Health Expenditure (CHE) due to the same. Methods: A hospital based cross sectional analytical study was undertaken in the authors’ institute in South India. 474 solid cancer patients were interviewed in OPD of Radiation Oncology by a trained data collector. Sociodemographic variables, costs incurred under various headings and expenditure details of participants were obtained. Direct Medical and Direct Non-Medical costs were calculated, and its total was used as the OOPE. Costs were presented as mean with its standard error. Incidence of CHE was calculated using the 40% threshold on the Capacity to pay and was expressed as proportions with 95% confidence interval. Appropriate statistical tests were used to look for statistically significant differences in the study groups. Results: The average OOP expenditure incurred by a cancer patient was INR 35,817 (USD 523.6) for male and INR 20,496 (USD 299.6) for female. Males had a significantly higher OOPE than females. The prevalence of catastrophic health expenditure (CHE) was 61.6% at the 40% CTP threshold. Patients who used insurance schemes had higher prevalence of CHE than those who did not use insurance schemes (65.5% vs 60.7%, p value 0.351). Conclusion: Cancer care provided through public institutions had a low direct medical cost, but the indirect cost seemed to be extremely high. Public based financial assistance is the need of the hour to help the cancer affected families. 


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