Cancer and Life Insurance

A history of cancer can unfortunately make it more difficult to find life insurance.

However, recent reports from prominent cancer organizations indicate a significant measure of progress in the fight against this disease – and therefore a measure of realistic optimism for life insurance consumers as well.

Here, we summarize the findings of this positive trend and show how it can prove favorable for cancer patients in their search for affordable life insurance.

Cancer Prevention

A report from the American Cancer Society (“Cancer Prevention And Early Detection Facts And Figures – 2005”) tells us that at least half of all cancer deaths in the United States could be prevented through a change in lifestyle practices by the American population.

Cited cancer prevention measures include – for example – quitting smoking. The fact is that fewer adults and teens are smoking compared to years ago. Also, people are more careful in the sun and consuming less alcohol. More attention is also being paid to diet and exercise, as obesity is now recognized as a partial contributor to a person’s probability of developing certain types of cancer.

Life insurance companies are quite willing to consider all modifications to your daily life that can help reduce the risk of death caused by cancer. Indeed, by informing the underwriter of your cancer prevention efforts, you can significantly lower your premiums.

Cancer Cures

While the rate of new cancer diagnoses remains steady, the rate of cancer cures is increasing – according to the National Cancer Institute’s biannual update on the fight against cancer

Early detection and treatment are credited for the statistical increase in cured cancer patients. Medical advancement seems truly miraculous, and improved educational outreach has resulted in more people voluntarily taking screening tests. The net result is that cancer is caught in earlier stages, when successful cures are more likely.

How does this affect the cost of your life insurance coverage? As the American population’s overall risk of dying decreases, so does your life insurance rate. The positive trend in cancer cures represents more affordable premiums for everyone.

Cancer Types

When evaluating a cancer patient, the life insurance underwriter recognizes different cancer types, each with its own characteristics.

For example, two types of tumors exist. Non-cancerous (benign) tumors are considered harmless and don’t affect other tissues. Following surgical removal, benign tumors are not an additional concern to underwriting. On the other hand, cancerous (malignant) tumors can infiltrate surrounding tissues as well as the circulation system.

Careful attention is paid to the applicant’s pathology report, which summarizes the cancer cell behavior. Cancers are graded from I through IV. Grade I describes well-differentiated cancers that are the least aggressive and have the lowest tendency to spread early. Grade IV cancer types are poorly differentiated, have a high rate of aggression, and are most likely to spread early.

Another means of categorizing cancer types is by determining the stage. Staging refers to the tumor’s size, the regional lymph node spread, and the degree of metastasis. For many cancers, a stage A or I diagnosis has the most favorable prognosis, while high stage cancers such as C2 or D have a much poorer prognosis.

Also, the life underwriter may assess the appropriateness of treatment, which depends on the cancer’s tissue of origin and spread; its stage and grade; the age of the applicant; the patient’s general health and lifestyle choices. Common types of cancer treatment include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and immunotherapy.

Cancer Survivor and Insurance

If you’re a cancer survivor, then genetic and environmental variables may be considered by the life insurance underwriter.

For example, cancer survivors have an increased risk of developing cancer again – even though the cancer may be in remission and the patient is currently cancer-free. And a family history of cancer may additionally predispose an individual to cancer. Unfortunately, your genetic history is completely beyond your control.

However, insurance companies are usually willing to consider all the mitigating factors that are within your personal control. For example, lifestyle choices such as quitting smoking will be seen favorably. As another example, the serious survivor can choose a healthier work environment, in terms of exposure to contaminants and carcinogens.

As a cancer survivor, you may qualify for surprisingly inexpensive life insurance coverage – if you can demonstrate a commitment to building a long and healthy future for yourself.

Universal Life Insurance Quote

Contrary to popular belief, many cancer survivors find a Universal Life Insurance quote to be more financially favorable than a term quote. This is because certain underwriting concessions are available for Universal Life that don’t come with term.

Certainly, term is more cost-effective in other situations. But it’s typically a disappointment for people with a history of cancer. This can come as quite a surprise. Therefore, we coach cancer patients to mentally open themselves to the possibility of Universal Life Insurance.

As discussed throughout this article, life insurance candidates benefit from many factors – even with a history of cancer. These include early detection, modern treatment approaches, and regular follow-up testing. Moreover, underwriting choices include expanded rates for people with low-grade/low-stage of cancer after treatment completion. Still other choices include the assessment of additional premiums for a limited time period after completion of the last treatment or a permanent assessment of extra premium.

In summary, every cancer patient must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and medical underwriting can result in significant savings. Finally, remember to request a Universal Life Insurance quote for comparison purposes.