Life Insurance with Prostate Cancer
Depending on your specific situation, getting approved for traditional life insurance can be challenging. Although obtaining life insurance with prostate cancer may seem almost impossible, if you choose the right independent agent and a company that has a history of favorable ratings for high-risk cases, it is still possible to find quality coverage at an affordable price.
Being the most common type of cancer in men, prostate cancer is cancer that occurs in a man’s prostate. The prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland that is responsible for producing the seminal fluid that nourishes and then transports sperm upon ejaculation.
Prostate cancer typically grows very slowly and initially is confined to the prostate gland and may not cause serious harm. Although some types of prostate cancer grow very slowly and will only need minimal treatment, other types of prostate cancer are aggressive and will spread very quickly. If the cancer is detected early – while still confined to the prostate gland – the patient has a better chance of successful treatment.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
While in the early stages, prostate cancer may present no signs or symptoms, but in the more advanced stage, cancer may cause signs and symptoms such as:
- Problems with urinating
- Decreased force in the urine stream
- Blood in the semen
- Pelvic discomfort
- Bone pain
- Erectile dysfunction (ED)
Although it is not clear what causes prostate cancer, doctors do know that cancer begins when cells in your prostate become abnormal. The mutations in these abnormal cells’ DNA cause the cells to grow very rapidly and continue living when they should normally die. The accumulating abnormal cells will form a tumor that will grow and invade normal tissue nearby. Some of the abnormal cells can then break away and spread throughout the body (metastasize).
Prostate Cancer Risk Factors
Even though doctors are not clear about the cause of prostate cancer, there is consensus on the risks that can increase a man’s risk of it:
- Older age men. The risk of prostate cancer increases as you age.
- African American men. Black men have shown to have a greater risk of prostate cancer than men from other races.
- Your family history. Men who have a history of prostate cancer or breast cancer in their family are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.
- Being overweight. Men who are obese and have been diagnosed with prostate cancer are typically more likely to have an advanced stage of cancer which is more difficult to treat.
Depending on the stage of the prostate cancer, there are several methods of treatment that you doctor will recommend.
Stage I Treatment
Men who area diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer may not receive any treatment but instead are recommended active surveillance which typically includes regular blood tests, rectal exams, and possibly biopsies that are used to monitor your condition.
Similar to stage I prostate cancer, patients with stage II who are not presenting any symptoms will be typically be recommended active surveillance, however, radical prostatectomy and radiation therapy may also be options that are appropriate.
When the cancer is considered stage III, it means that it has grown outside the prostate but has not yet reached the bladder or rectum. The cancers have not yet spread to lymph nodes or other organs in the body. The treatment options for stage III prostate cancer typically include external beam radiation, hormone therapy, radical prostatectomy, or a combination of the three.
Since stage IV cancers have already begun to spread to nearby organs such as the bladder, rectum, nearby lymph nodes, and bones, only a small portion of stage IV patients may be cured using some or all of the treatment listed in stage III, plus additional surgery to relieve symptoms. Typically, stage IV prostate cancer cannot be cured but only treated to improve the patient’s quality of life.
How will Prostate Cancer Affect My Life Insurance?
Typically, most high-risk life insurers will accept you for a policy provided you are in remission, or your cancer is being treated successfully, but you will likely be surcharged until such time that you are cancer free. In some cases, under ideal circumstances, you may even qualify for a standard rate.
Although most prostate cancer patients believe they are unacceptable for standard life insurance rates, many have found that because of new treatments that have shown considerable success, life insurance underwriters are somewhat more liberal and are issuing policies with a standard rating.
What Underwriters will Want to Know
When you apply for life insurance that is fully underwritten, you should be prepared for the volume of medical information the underwriter will need to review in order to make an informed decision.
Along with the insurance application that contains many questions about your medical history and lifestyle, you will be asked to complete a supplemental questionnaire specific to prostate cancer. Your underwriter will also order an insurance medical exam that includes blood and urine analysis and new tests if the ones in your medical file are outdated.
Your underwriter will also order reports from national databases such as the Medical Information Bureau and the ScriptCheck database. Once all of the medical information is reviewed by the underwriter, you will be notified if your application has been approved and what health class you have qualified for. Typically, you can expect a rate surcharge that will apply if and when your cancer goes into remission.
What if my Application is Declined?
For prostate cancer patients whose application is declined, there is an alternative. Your independent agent will likely represent several insurance carriers who offer guaranteed issue life insurance. This type of policy is issued without regard to your health history and is typically issued within days of your application.
By electing a guaranteed issue life insurance policy, you will agree to a lower death benefit of $25,000 to $30,000. You will also be agreeing to a waiting period of two or three years before your insurer will pay a death benefit if you die from natural causes (most carriers will pay the full benefit from the first day if death is the result of an accident). And, since the insurer is accepting an unknown health risk, you will be paying a much higher rate than standard life insurance.
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