The cost of oropharyngeal cancer in England: A retrospective hospital data analysis

Clin Otolaryngol. 2018 Feb;43(1):223-229. doi: 10.1111/coa.12944. Epub 2017 Aug 14.


Objectives: To estimate the total costs of treating head and neck cancers, specifically oropharyngeal, laryngeal and oral cavity cancer, in secondary care facilities in England during the period 2006/2007 to 2010/2011.

Design: Patient records were extracted from an English hospital database to estimate the number of patients treated for oropharyngeal, laryngeal and oral cavity cancer in England. Identified resource use was linked to published United Kingdom cost estimates to quantify the reimbursement of treatment through the Payment by Results system.

Setting: Retrospective hospital data analysis.

Participants: From the hospital data, patient records of patients treated for oropharyngeal, laryngeal and oral cavity cancer were selected.

Main outcome measures: Annual total costs of treatment, stratified by inpatient and outpatient setting and by male and female patients.

Results: From 2006/2007 to 2010/2011, total costs of treatment across the three head and neck cancer sites were estimated to be approximately £309 million, with 90% attributable to inpatient care (bundled costs). Oropharyngeal cancer accounted for 37% of total costs. Costs and patient numbers increased over time, largely due to a rise in oropharyngeal cancer, where total costs increased from £17.21 million to £30.32 million, with over 1400 (52%) more inpatients treated in 2010/11 compared to 2006/07.

Conclusions: In 4 years, the number of patients with oropharyngeal cancer receiving some form of inpatient care increased by more than half, and associated costs increased by three quarters. This reinforces the case for prevention and early detection strategies to help contain this epidemiological and economic burden.

Keywords: cost burden; head and neck cancer; human papillomavirus; laryngeal cancer; oral cavity cancer; oropharyngeal cancer; prevention; resource use.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Combined Modality Therapy / economics
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Databases, Factual
  • England
  • Health Expenditures / trends*
  • Humans
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / economics*
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies