Oral cavity (OC), oral pharyngeal (OP), and salivary gland (SG) cancer could possibly be the most expensive cancers to treat in the country today.

The finding comes from Delta Dental of Michigan’s Research and Data Institute (RDI) and involved the participation of Delta Dental of Wisconsin, Vanderbilt University and The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry. Chief Science Officer at Delta Dental, Dr. Jed Jacobson was a lead contributor to the study. The study commeneced in March of 2010 and its results will be published in BioMed Central’s open access journal, Head and Neck Oncology.

Utilizing Delta Dental’s RDI as well as a commercial price database the study analyzed the past claims of 6,812 OC/OP/SG patients with either Medicare of Medicaid benefits or with an employer-sponsored health plan.

The examination found that the average total healthcare spending over the course of the year following the diagnoses was $79,151 compared to $7419 in a group made up of similar patients without those specific cancers. The study found that the cost doubled for patients that received surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

“Most oral caners require costly and disfiguring medical intervention, and even then the fiver-year survival rate is approximately just 60 percent. When cancer is detected early, the survival rate increases to 83 percent,” said Dr. Jed Jacobson.