Direct health-care cost of head and neck cancers: a population-based study in north-eastern Italy

Jerry Polesel, Valentina Lupato, Paolo Collarile, Emanuela Vaccher, Giuseppe Fanetti, Vittorio Giacomarra, Elisa Palazzari, Carlo Furlan, Fabio Matrone, Federico Navarria, Carlo Gobitti, Emilio Minatel, Diego Serraino, Silvia Birri, Giovanni Franchin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Improvements in prognosis of head-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) have paralleled with an increase in health-care costs, so that an economic evaluation is of growing importance. Presently, most of the evidence is from insurance-based studies in the USA. Between 2007 and 2010, 879 HNSCC patients were identified through the population-based cancer registry of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, including 266 oral, 187 oropharyngeal, 136 hypopharyngeal, and 290 laryngeal cancers. Health-care costs from diagnosis to treatment initiation and in the following 2 years were retrieved through a record linkage with the regional health data warehouse. This database collected comprehensive health information on all resident citizens. Generalized linear models with a gamma distribution and log-link function were applied to model costs. The average health-care cost from diagnosis up to 2 years after treatment initiation was €20,184 (95% confidence interval: €19,634 − 20,733). Heterogeneity emerged according to cancer site, elective treatment, and retreatment for cancer persistence/recurrence (no: €13,896; yes: €24,599; p < 0.001). An advanced stage was associated with increased costs stage (I: €12,969; II: €18,276; III: €26,229; IV: €25,574; p < 0.001) as the result of treatment complexity and elevated frequency of patients retreatment due to recurrence. These findings further support strategies to diagnose patients at an earlier cancer stage and the accurate definition of diagnostic and treatment pathways, to start treating patients when radical unimodal approach is still feasible. Besides the advantage in prognosis due to timely curative treatments, this would reduce the economic burden of cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number31
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Oncology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2019


  • Diagnostic cost
  • Economic burden
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Population-based study
  • Treatment cost

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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