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Need some advice regarding possible skin cancer/melanoma treatment in Thailand


The Sly Fox

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I'm 71 yo, retired in Thailand, currently on holiday with my Thai wife in Perth, Australia. While I'm in Perth I've had some routine health check-ups and all is good. 

However I have a couple small sunspots on my left arm that require a closer look. This morning I saw a skin specialist and he wants to do a biopsy on these spots as there's a possibility they could be early cancerous and require removing or other treatment. 

I wanted a second opinion so an hour later I saw another doctor at a different clinic (I didn't tell him anything about already seeing the skin specialist) and this second doctor also said these spots need closer inspection and may require a biopsy and removal. So something needs to be done.

Now, we have flights booked back to Thailand in just under 3 weeks, and Xmas/NY is almost here. So not much, if anything, will get done before we depart.

Should I go see skin specialists at a hospital in Thailand (we live in Korat) and do what needs to be done there? Or should I return to Perth after a few weeks and continue with the skin specialist I saw this morning?

Cost is also a factor. In Australia I hold the Medicare card, but don't have any private health insurance and don't have any pension card. So I have to pay myself for any tests & treatment. I can get free treatment at gov' hospitals but I believe the waiting list is long.

In Thailand I don't have health cover, but I know from past experience that medical treatment is very much cheaper than Western countries, particularly in the Thai gov hospitals.

I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has had this type of treatment done in Thailand and how it went and what the charges were.

Women are made to be loved, not understood.

 

 

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I've got a couple of those spots on my face. I went into Bangkok Udon Hospital and had a specialist check them. I had two of them removed and biopsied, and neither were cancerous yet. The Doctor at the hospital told me he also had a clinic in town, and the cost at his clinic would be less than the hospital. Also, at the hospital the only option was surgical, where for removal, the clinic offered surgical or freezing. I expect to go to the clinic some time early next year and get a couple more removed. 

It was near the beginning of the year, so I don't recall the actual costs involved, but from growing up in the American healthcare system, the cost seemed almost trivial. If you have an International Hospital in Korat (surely you must), I'd go get a consultation done there, and see what they say. I don't think a consultation was more than a couple of hundred baht. 

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Just now, Garzan said:

I've got a couple of those spots on my face. I went into Bangkok Udon Hospital and had a specialist check them. I had two of them removed and biopsied, and neither were cancerous yet. The Doctor at the hospital told me he also had a clinic in town, and the cost at his clinic would be less than the hospital. Also, at the hospital the only option was surgical, where for removal, the clinic offered surgical or freezing. I expect to go to the clinic some time early next year and get a couple more removed. 

It was near the beginning of the year, so I don't recall the actual costs involved, but from growing up in the American healthcare system, the cost seemed almost trivial. If you have an International Hospital in Korat (surely you must), I'd go get a consultation done there, and see what they say. I don't think a consultation was more than a couple of hundred baht. 

Thanks mate, gives me something to consider.

Women are made to be loved, not understood.

 

 

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Just now, The Sly Fox said:

I'm 71 yo, retired in Thailand, currently on holiday with my Thai wife in Perth, Australia. While I'm in Perth I've had some routine health check-ups and all is good. 

However I have a couple small sunspots on my left arm that require a closer look. This morning I saw a skin specialist and he wants to do a biopsy on these spots as there's a possibility they could be early cancerous and require removing or other treatment. 

I wanted a second opinion so an hour later I saw another doctor at a different clinic (I didn't tell him anything about already seeing the skin specialist) and this second doctor also said these spots need closer inspection and may require a biopsy and removal. So something needs to be done.

Now, we have flights booked back to Thailand in just under 3 weeks, and Xmas/NY is almost here. So not much, if anything, will get done before we depart.

Should I go see skin specialists at a hospital in Thailand (we live in Korat) and do what needs to be done there? 

Cost is also a factor. In Australia I hold the Medicare card, but don't have any private health insurance and don't have any pension card. So I have to pay myself for any tests & treatment. I can get free treatment at gov' hospitals but I believe the waiting list is long.

In Thailand I don't have health cover, but I know from past experience that medical treatment is very much cheaper than Western countries, particularly in the Thai gov hospitals.

I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has had this type of treatment done in Thailand and how it went and what the charges were.

In Sydney I go to my GP who is also has a skin cancer qualification (many do over here) and he takes whatever it is off normally on the spot.

Occasional if he cuts something out like Bowens Disease which a BCC (Basel Cell carcinoma ie something which may cause problems if not removed) it might need two trips.

In the vast majority of cases its bulk billed, sometimes a modest charge for the surgical dressings etc etc - all done in the Doctors surgery.

Try to ring around Perth and get in and get it done before you fly back to Thailand if possible, but it might not be possible.

Might be possible to get it dome in Singapore ? but probably expensive ?

Australia is a bit of a "sun cancer capital of the world" as you probably know - so most doctors here know what they are doing.

Best wishes with it. 

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Just now, Zeb said:

In Sydney I go to my GP who is also has a skin cancer qualification (many do over here) and he takes whatever it is off normally on the spot.

Occasional if he cuts something out like Bowens Disease which a BCC (Basel Cell carcinoma ie something which may cause problems if not removed) it might need two trips.

In the vast majority of cases its bulk billed, sometimes a modest charge for the surgical dressings etc etc - all done in the Doctors surgery.

Try to ring around Perth and get in and get it done before you fly back to Thailand if possible, but it might not be possible.

Might be possible to get it dome in Singapore ? but probably expensive ?

Australia is a bit of a "sun cancer capital of the world" as you probably know - so most doctors here know what they are doing.

Best wishes with it. 

Cheers mate, I'll weigh it all up, it's a bum time due to Xmas, but I might just fly back in late Jan, it's not much for a cheap AirAsia flight and I got my own apartment in Perth. On another forum someone said best get it done in Oz because, as you point out, the docs in Oz are highly experienced, whereas Thai docs don't have much experience at all.

Women are made to be loved, not understood.

 

 

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Had one spot on my lower leg, treated by Bkk hospital Pattaya. Was about 12K Bht for 2 excisions including the lab work. Fortunately I have insurance coverage for this hospital. I think you can have similar procedure for less elsewhere.  Treatment was very professional and painless due in part to the extremely suay lady doc.

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I will tell you what I've been through.  Not to say you should do anything similar, just sharing my experiences.

I had some extreme sun exposure as a child.  I had a biopsy on a spot on my arm done in 2003.  The doctor informed me it was pre-cancerous.  He said because it was due to sun exposure, not to get overly alarmed (melanoma is another story).  He told me to be watchful and whenever anything showed up, get it removed.  Biopsy if anything unusual showed up.

Since that time, I have visited a laser clinic here in Pattaya to have anything suspicious removed.  The surgeon here is an older gentlemen who seems experienced.  No biopsies done, but about 10% of the time he indicated what was being removed was probably pre or early cancer.

A couple years ago, I decided to visit a dermatologist at Bangkok Hospital here in Pattaya.  The dermatologist had a look, I pointed out areas of question, and he indicated everything was fine.  To be honest, I'm not sure my confidence level in him was very high.

About a year ago, my laser surgeon informed me about a cream which was available in the United States.  I was able to visit a doctor while there earlier this year.  I got the cream and it appears to work really well.   The doctor there told me that the cream was more affective than surgery because, I believe as she put it, 'the cream destroys the DNA'.  The cream is classified as a chemotherapy agent and requires a prescription.   Fluorouracil by Taro Pharmaceutical Industries if you wish to do research on it.

I don't have a great deal of confidence with doctors in Thailand when it comes to skin cancer.  They simply don't have the experience here when compared to doctors in sunny, fair-skinned countries.

Any questions, please PM me.    All the best.

 

Gaee lao. mai law doi. Mai ben rai, mee daang!

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timbota: thanks for the tip on the cream. At this stage it looks like I'll stay back in Korat with my missis for a couple weeks then fly back to Perth myself and do what needs doing then. The consensus is that Thai docs just don't have the same expertise in this matters.

Women are made to be loved, not understood.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Fiirst of all is to get the right diagnosis. The definite diagnosis melanoma or not is given by a pathologist. A lot of cases are clear cut (benign or malignant), but a lot of cases are difficult to decide whether its a melanoma.

I have more faith in Australian pathologists than in Thai pathologists. So if you do your treatment in Thailand you can consider a second opinion of a Western/Australian educated pathologist. The slides of your biopsy are sent and you get an answer (melanoma confirmed or not (benign) in around 2 weeks. Will cost about 100 to 200 US dollars I guess.

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I had one removed in Perth, the doctor ID one spot he said could be the type to be cancerous and offered me to remove it in his room and send off to a lab for biopsy. It was very quick and easy just a local anaesthetic and done.

I made the next appointment and had it removed anyway , tests came back all clear, but skin cancer is very quick so you don't want to hang about.

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On 20/12/2018 at 19:46, timbota said:

About a year ago, my laser surgeon informed me about a cream which was available in the United States.  I was able to visit a doctor while there earlier this year.  I got the cream and it appears to work really well.   The doctor there told me that the cream was more affective than surgery because, I believe as she put it, 'the cream destroys the DNA'.  The cream is classified as a chemotherapy agent and requires a prescription.   Fluorouracil by Taro Pharmaceutical Industries if you wish to do research on it.

I will not go into my skin cancer history as it would take pages.  But I thought I would add my 2c worth re creams.  Brand name in Aussie is Efudix (fluorouracil 5% w/w cream).  I have done the procedure with this cream twice; once for my face (on skin cancer doctor's recommendation) and the other, on both arms (at my suggestion because the face treatment was so successful.)  That's the good news, the bad news is the time frame and discomfort involved in using the cream.  You should really google this one before you see a doc about it.

In my case, my skin was so affected that every 6 month visit, I was having BCC's either excised or burnt off.  Have lost count.  But for only one or two spots, then imho burn or excise would be the way to go rather than spending over a month putting the cream on, then having to wait for all the blisters to heal.  Of course, your doc will tell you what he will do, but it is nice to know what he could come up with.  Good luck.

I am 66 and since I turned 65, the government picks up the full tab for the skin cancer specialist.  Cream is pricy, think about $A60 from memory.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Also in perth and have done the efudex, aldara, cansema black salve , wouldnt recommend any due to time , scarring, and pain factors. Plenty of bulk billing skin cancer treatments here in perth,, now starting to do laser treatment, all bulk billed. mole patrol in bibra lake is the one doing me currently

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If you need an experienced skin doctor in Pattaya for cancerous spots, I can only recommend Dr. Anna at Pattaya Hospital. This lady is very conscientious and  knows exactly  where and what to look for and if a Biopsy or larger removal is required. Both, Biopsy or bigger removal are completely painless and are in the 8 -10k baht cost range. 

In some cases she  prescribes this in earlier posts referred cream as a complement to a biopsy/removal to be applied after the wound healing process.

 

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