A malignant tumour of unknown origin, or carcinoma of unknown primary, is a rare disease in which cancer cells are found in the body but their origin is not known. This type of tumour affects an estimated 3% of all cancer patients. Treating this condition is significantly more challenging, as it requires sophisticated diagnostic techniques, such as immunohistochemistry and the use of serum tumour markers. As a result, the prognosis for the majority of patients remains poor in many parts of the world where access to advanced diagnostic technologies is scarce.
For this reason, patients who are suspected of having a malignant tumour of unknown origin are advised to seek treatment from hospitals and cancer specialists abroad, preferably in countries with a robust healthcare infrastructure. In the past, only hospitals in developed countries in the West, such as the US and the UK, have access to cutting-edge diagnostic equipment and technology. Now, however, the scope of medical tourism has grown significantly to include even countries in Asia.
Southeast Asia is fast becoming comparable to its western counterparts in terms of healthcare infrastructure and the quality of medical care it offers. This is owed largely to the major progress that Asia’s top healthcare systems, found in Singapore, Thailand, and more recently in Malaysia, have achieved.
Patients with malignant tumours of unknown origin can take advantage of the many advanced diagnostic hubs in these countries, where they only need to pay less than half of what western hospitals typically charge. By providing these patients with easier access to world-class diagnostic technology, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia have collectively improved the outlook for a large number of cancer patients suffering from malignant tumours of unknown origin.
Due to Southeast Asia’s reputation in the medical tourism industry, it has also become one of the regions where the world’s best and most reputable medical specialists converge. As such, medical tourists would be able to easily find several cancer specialists including some who focus primarily on the diagnosis and treatment of cancers with an unknown primary origin.