Average Cost of Cancer Treatment in SG

A cancer diagnosis always lends itself to a host of questions. One of the main questions patients have is how much they will have to spend on treatment. Cancer treatment is generally thought to be expensive due to the intensity and duration of treatment, as well as the potential for complications. While cancer treatment is often expensive, the actual cost in Singapore will depend not only on the type of cancer, but also where you choose to receive treatment. Below, we examine the average cost of cancer treatment by cancer type and type of treatment in Singapore.

index

average cost of biopsies

The average cost of a biopsy for the most common types of cancer is 1,044 Singapore dollars in public and subsidized hospital wards and clinics. At the higher end of the spectrum, you can expect to pay S$5,833 for a biopsy at hospitals and private clinics. the cheapest biopsy is for skin cancer, costing an average of S$492 in a public subsidized ward. the most expensive is a lung cancer biopsy, costing an average of S$1,793 in a subsidized public ward. As expected, biopsies in private hospitals are more expensive, costing 2 to 5 times more than biopsies in subsidized public hospitals. while having a biopsy in a b1 or ward is 95-158% more expensive than in a subsidized hospital ward, it will be around 70% cheaper than having a biopsy in a private hospital.

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In addition, it also costs less to be treated in a clinic as a day patient than as an inpatient in a hospital. for example, we found that a lung biopsy performed as outpatient surgery costs S$3,999 in a private clinic, but S$20,422 in a private hospital (as an inpatient). Similarly, performing the same procedure as an outpatient surgery in a subsidized clinic costs 80% less than doing it as an inpatient in a b2 ward.

average cost of surgery by type of cancer

The average cost of surgery for 5 common cancers ranges from S$2,810 in a public subsidized ward to S$32,663 in a private hospital. surgery in a subsidized public hospital costs 80% less than treatment in a non-subsidized public hospital. however, treatment in an unsubsidized public ward is 56% cheaper than treatment in a private hospital.

average cost of cancer by type of treatment

There are several methods of treatment depending on the type of cancer. the most common treatments are chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery and immunotherapy.

chemotherapy

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the average cost of chemotherapy in singapore is around S$1,500 per cycle. how much you can expect to spend per year depends on how many cycles you need and how often you need it.

Chemotherapy is one of the most common types of treatment for cancer. It can be used to cure, control, or alleviate the symptoms of cancer. It can be given by oral medication, injection into a muscle, or injection into a vein. the cost of chemotherapy changes depending on the number of drugs you need. In some cases, you may need just one medication, but in other cases, your oncologist may prescribe a combination. Also, costs depend on how often you need chemotherapy and the stage of your cancer.

radiotherapy

the average cost of radiotherapy in singapore is approximately s$25,000 to s$30,000. A new type of radiation therapy, called proton therapy, will be available in 2020. This procedure will consist of 15-30 minute sessions over the course of 6 weeks and will cost 13,000 Singapore dollars for patients who qualify for subsidies.

Like chemotherapy, the total cost of radiation therapy depends on the number of sessions required. radiation therapy shrinks or destroys tumors using high-energy x-rays. There are two main types of radiation therapy: external beam radiation therapy and internal radiation therapy.

immunotherapy

Immunotherapy (sometimes called biologic therapy) is one of the newer methods of treating cancer. Immunotherapy drugs are quite expensive, costing an average of S$9,000 per dose. Because the dose is given every two to three weeks, the average cost of one year of treatment ranges from S$156,000 to S$234,000.

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With this type of treatment, the immune system attacks the cancer cells. More specifically, immunotherapy helps a type of antibody called a checkpoint inhibitor block checkpoint proteins on cancer cells that prevent immune cells from destroying them. Immunotherapy has been approved for several types of cancer, including Hodgkin’s lymphoma, advanced melanoma, bladder cancer, and non-small cell lung cancer.

how to pay for cancer treatment

There are several avenues for financial help when it comes to cancer treatment. First, you can use your medisave to pay for some inpatient and outpatient treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Singapore’s public health insurance plan, MediShield Life, may also help offset a small part of the cost. medishield life offers s$3,000 coverage for chemotherapy treatment and between s$140 and s$1,800 coverage per radiotherapy treatment session. it also offers between 200 and 2000 Singapore dollars for surgical procedures. Second, people who have a built-in protection plan will receive even more coverage. Integrated Protection Plans (IPS) will cover your hospital stay, pre- and post-hospital treatment, and most types of cancer treatment up to 95% of the cost of your bill. however, you should be aware that it can be difficult to get an IP if you have already been diagnosed with cancer. it may end up being classified as a pre-existing condition and will be excluded from coverage or subject to very high premiums.

People who are concerned about the state of their financial stability in the event of cancer may want to consider critical illness plans. These insurance policies offer a lump sum payment in the event of a cancer diagnosis. You can use that cash for whatever you want, whether it’s to pay for things your insurance doesn’t cover or for everyday expenses. similar to ip plans, it is much more beneficial for you to get the plan while you are still healthy.

beyond insurance, patients also have the option of using government subsidies such as medifund. medifund helps patients who are still struggling to pay a bill even after receiving a government subsidy and using their insurance. patients can apply and the amount of assistance awarded will be considered and approved on a case-by-case basis. Finally, you can also apply for financial assistance from the Singapore Cancer Society.

methodology

We used data from the ministry of health to find the average cost of biopsies and surgery for the most common type of cancer in singapore. Depending on data availability, we were able to obtain a biopsy, surgery, or both bills for breast, prostate, colorectal, skin, stomach, ovarian, and lung cancer. To find the rest of the costs, we use news and government sources, since price data is not available on a specific drug tier. therefore, the prices of chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiotherapy are reference points. We also do not discuss indirect costs, such as costs for complementary drugs, transportation, and hospice care, as these can vary widely based on a patient’s budget and medical needs.

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