First medical tourism awards tout top treatment trips
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 0154 GMT (0954 HKT)
The medical tourism industry is estimated to be worth up to $55 billion per year
- Worldwide medical tourism industry said to be growing by up to 25% each year
- The International Medical Travel Journal has staged its first annual award ceremony recognizing best treatment centers
- Malaysian facilities scooped three awards, winning in hospital, dental and fertility clinic categories
(CNN) -- When they can see the world, save cash and get that surgery you wanted, it's no wonder that increasing numbers of travelers are hopping on a jet in search of cut-price healthcare.
The worldwide medical tourism industry is said to be growing by up to 25% each year as patients with passports head abroad for procedures costing as much as 80% less than at home.
Partly fueled by 1.2 million Americans, it's a sector now estimated to be worth up to $55 billion.
But where are the best destinations for medical tourism?
MORE: Welcome to the plastic surgery capital of the world
Last month, the UK-based International Medical Travel Journal staged its first annual award ceremony recognizing what it says are the top facilities offering treatment to visitors.
While many of these establishments offer care for potentially life-threatening cancer or heart problems, patients are just as likely to be seeking cosmetic work to their face, teeth or torso.
IMTJ's managing editor Keith Pollard says the awards, staged in Dubai, are the industry's first independent stamps of approval on medical tourism providers.
MORE: Thailand offers tourists chance to win a new face
Airline travel discounts part of package
"All our winners exemplify the way the medical tourism industry should be run -- professional, offering exceptional patient care and providing the best possible medical outcomes," Pollard says.
The IMTJ divided its winners into categories, including best hospital, specialist patient center, dental clinic, fertility clinic, travel agency and website.
Malaysia emerged as one of the prime destinations, with victories in three categories.
MORE: Bali wants in on the medical tourism action
Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur, a 330-bed care center that offers airline travel discounts to inbound patients on its website, took the hospital accolade.
Kuala Lumpur's Prince Court Medical Center won best fertility clinic, while its International Dental Specialist Center was named as the best place for teeth tuneups.
Jordan was named as the best overall destination for what judges said was a remarkable success in handling 250,000 international patients.
Click here for a full list of the 2014 Medical Travel Awards winners.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1808 GMT (0208 HKT)
The guidebook asked staff, contributors and authors for well-known and lesser-known recommendations.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
An airport in Asia has stolen the crown from Manila's Ninoy Aquino, voted 'world's worst' three years in a row.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1620 GMT (0020 HKT)
It's time for a beef break, veal vacation, hog holiday or sinew sabbatical in a T-bone a-fide U.S. meatopolis.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
With so many awesome new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 0107 GMT (0907 HKT)
Scientists are busy surveying Southeast Asia's Coral Triangle, home to 75 percent of all known coral species.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1350 GMT (2150 HKT)
Bounce Below transforms an abandoned slate mine into a surreal, springy world of fear and fun,
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 2316 GMT (0716 HKT)
With chopsticks or fingers? Wasabi or no? A double Michelin-starred Tokyo chef sets the record straight and shows us the sushi way.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2224 GMT (0624 HKT)
It may look like a gateway across time and space crafted with alien technology, but in reality it's a fruit and vegetable market.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 0925 GMT (1725 HKT)
Based on the votes of over 330 industry experts, the 2014 winners include bars from 27 cities in 14 countries.
October 12, 2014 -- Updated 2231 GMT (0631 HKT)
Careening down an active volcano at 95 kph on a thin board? It happens only at Cerro Negro in Nicaragua.