Can You Afford Cancer Treatment? An Insight On The True Cost Of Cancer Treatment In Singapore.

3 min read

Sitting next to an elderly couple at the registration counter while helping my relative out with her payment National Cancer Centre Singapore.

While my relative was lucky enough to have her treatment covered by insurance, the elderly couple beside me was not so fortunate.

The man, in his seventies, was passing whatever debit card he can find in his wallet, just to have them all rejected by the system.

” My CPF?”, he murmured, just to have the lady at the counter shake her head and apologise.

That was when it hits me. This SHIT is so Damn REAL.

TL;DR – Cancer Sucks

  • Each year, 14,148 Singaporeans are diagnosed with cancer
  • Cancer takes away 5,899 of our loved ones on a yearly basis.
  • Treatment of cancer per month is said to be S$8,000 to S$17,000

Editor’s Note: This article is part of Seedly’s Social Outreach Campaign to raise funds for Singapore Cancer Society. In case you are wondering, we are not sponsored to do so. This is purely for help out some of the less fortunate Singaporeans. Cheers!

Cost of cancer treatment in Singapore

While it only takes seconds to receive the news that one has been diagnosed with cancer, his world has been changed forever from that point on. Any dream or plans one might have right up to the point of diagnostic will not matter anymore.

When we covered the true cost of healthcare treatment in Singapore previously, we noticed that the average cost of treatment is not easily available online.

The estimated treatment cost later stage cancer can easily range from S$100,000 to S$200,000 yearly. That is about $8,400 to S$16,700 per month.

The median monthly salary of an average Singaporean? S$3,500

Singapore Median Household Income

Rooms for improvement for Singapore’s healthcare system

For a developed country such as Singapore, our lack of transparency when it comes to healthcare cost is shocking.

While the availability of grants and Medisave benefits are plastered all over the websites of hospitals, and yet the actual cost of each treatment is seldom presented. Even if is it, it is not obvious to consumers.

This means that I can go all day highlighting the benefits one can receive from Medisave, without realising that it the cost to fork out in cash is still pretty high.

15 People die from cancer every day

Cancer is actually something that is very real and close to us Singaporeans. In fact, cancer takes away 5,899 loved ones from families on a yearly basis in Singapore.

For every 3 deaths, 1 is attributed to cancer, making it the top killer in Singapore.

A closer look at the numbers:

  • 14,148 Singaporeans are diagnosed with cancer each year.
  • An average of 38 Singaporeans receive the news that they are diagnosed with cancer on a daily basis.
  • And unfortunately, 15 people passed on from cancer every day.

Factors affecting cost of cancer treatment

The top 10 cancers in Singapore are:

*other urinary refers to renal pelvis, ureter, urethra, etc.
source: Singapore Cancer Registry Interim Annual Report


One main challenge of getting diagnosed with cancer

For someone who just got diagnosed with cancer, cost of treatment becomes one of the main concern. Often, the victim of cancer is in a state of shock and confusion and their priority is to not be a burden to their family members.

One main issue from our personal experience is the lack of transparency in terms of cost when it comes to cancer treatment. Despite the benefits of MediShield Life and Medisave being plastered all over hospital websites, it certainly did nothing to appease the many questions on a victim’s mind. (eg. a $300 benefit is simply a dent on a $30,000 hospital bill)

It is understandable that the procedures differ differently from individual to individual, which further adds on to the challenges of coming out with an accurate estimation of the cost involved.

The cost of treatment depends on a few factors:

  • The type of cancer
  • Which stage of the cancer
  • The kind of treatment that is required
  • The body condition of the patient

An example will be, a stage 4 cancer patient will be expecting more cycle of chemotherapies as compared to someone in the initial stage. Cancer growth at more vital organs also increases the difficulty to get it treated.

Further Reading: The True Cost Of Cancer

After chatting with Singapore Cancer Society, here is the breakdown of some of the costs that a cancer patient needs:

Procedures/Medical NeedsCostRemarks
Surgery as part of cancer treatmentS$3,000This is excluding hospital stay.

More complex organs and procedures may result in higher charges.
ChemotheraphyS$1,500 for 1 cycleEach treatment involves a 3-4 cycle, followed by a CT scan to track progress of treatment.
Milk for patients under hospice careS$2002 weeks supply
Adult diapers (if required)S$1002 weeks supply
Ostomy Bags
(for colorectal cancer survivor)
S$501 week supply
Transportation to hospital for treatmentS$201 trip

*Do note that the above numbers are based on the average amount of subsidies that Singapore Cancer Society provides to needy cancer patients. it is not meant to be an exhaustive or definitive list of examples.

We have also compiled some of the cancer-related procedures and their costs

Condition/ProcedureMedian CostsRemarks
Admission for breast cancer
(Day surgery)
$1,034 - $5,665
$218 - $$668
Admission for Breast, Surgical Removal$8,212 - $10,600Ward A
$25,059 - $29,324Private Hospital (1 Bedded)
$21,880Private Hospital (2 Bedded)
$22,782Private Hospital (4 Bedded)
$8,481Ward B1
$6,037Ward B2+
$1,794 - $4,260Ward B2
$1,389 - $1,579Ward C
$1,602 - $2,432Day Surgery (subsidised)
Cancer Therapy with drugs$730Ward B2
$2,115Day Surgery (Private)
$64Day Surgery (Subsidised)
Admission for Intestine/ Stomach, Gastrointestinal Cancer$4,356Ward A
$6,375Private Hospital (1 Bedded)
$3,393Ward B1
$639 - $1,557Ward B2
$708 - $1,837Ward C
Admission for Liver Cancer $4,259 - $5,264Ward A
$3,243Ward B1
$839 - $2,144Ward B2
$999 - $1,519Ward C
Surgery for removal of prostate gland due to cancer$51,596Private Hospital (1 Bedded)
Admission for Lung Cancer
(excludes surgical treatment)
$2,597 - $5,056Ward A
$4,063Ward B1
$812 - $1,987Ward B2
$780 - $1,303Ward C
Admission for Lung Cancer with complications
(excludes surgical treatment)
$2,056 - $3,407Ward B2
$1,598 - $2,639Ward C

source: www.moh.gov.sg

Seedly Social Outreach: How can we help?

As part of Seedly’s social outreach this year, we have decided to partner with Singapore Cancer Society to help Singaporeans in need.

Simply head over here to do to support our cause. Every dollar matters. All donations are channeled directly to Singapore Cancer Society.

Seedly Cancer cost


Singapore Cancer Society Factsheet

In the year 2016, Singapore Cancer Society provided financial aid to over 1,800 needy beneficiaries, amounting to about $6.9 million.

source: Singapore Cancer Society

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