Mastectomy cost RM 10K in Penang, RM 20K in Indonesia. Your choice!


In an earlier posting, Breast Cancer: Go for a mastectomy!  we wrote about Jane, a 42-year-old Indonesian lady who had a lump in her breast. We requested her to go and see Dr. Y at Z hospital or Dr. C in D hospital. Jane first went to Dr. Y but he was not available and Jane proceeded to see Dr. C at D hospital. She did not have to wait long to see Dr. C.  The next day, Jane had her mastectomy. Jane was discharged after two days in the hospital. However, she had to see her surgeon again every other day to ensure everything was okay.

After a week, Jane came back to see us again.

The following are the gist of our conversation.

Chris: Did the doctor talk to you nicely? Are satisfied the way he treated you?

Jane: Yes, good.

C: Did the doctor do another CT scan or biopsy before he operated on you?

J: No.

C: How much was the total cost of your treatment?

J: Everything came to about RM 10,000.

C: Before you came here, you went to a hospital in Surabaya. Did you ask what it would cost you to do the surgery in Surabaya.

J: IDR 50 million – approximately RM 20,000.

C: Aside from the cost, which do you prefer – to do surgery in a Penang hospital or Surabaya hospital? Think about the cleanliness, the way things are done, etc.

J: I prefer Penang hospital.

C: I am real glad that we can help you choose the right doctor in the right hospital. I know from patients’ feedback that Dr C. who you went to is very competent to handle your case. He is also a nice person.


Let it be known that I do not know Dr. C or Dr. Y personally. Professionally yes, because I have sent many patients to see them and most of the time the feedback from our patients have been very positive. I do not earn any “referral fee” for sending patients to see these doctors. We spend time giving advice to patients without charge. The real reward we get is to see our patients happy and satisfied and are being attended to by competent and compassionate doctors. That is far more rewarding than money.

I am also glad to note that Dr. C did NOT perform a repeat CT scan or biopsy on Jane. I have also cautioned Jane to decline such procedures if asked to do so. The reason is simple. She had done all these in a hospital in Surabaya. So there is no reason why Jane had to be subjected to additional testing which would incur additional costs. Perhaps you may think it is to be expected or a logical thing — why repeat?

Unfortunately, not all hospitals are that “logical.” There was a case of an oncologist in Singapore who told a patient that he would NOT accept the results of the MRI she did a week ago in a Malaysian hospital. The patient must repeat the MRI in his hospital! What do you think of such an attitude? And what do you think of the result of the repeat? SAME! The effect on patient? Patient was left with a bigger hole in her bank account. And the tragedy of all is the end result — patient died after spending RM 500,000 for her treatment in Singapore.