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Cancer: General Overview

I Have Cancer. Now What?

Cancer is a serious issue when applying for life insurance. Luckily, modern treatment techniques, the ability to detect cancer early, and regular follow-ups now allow for the underwriting of individuals with cancer that would have been uninsurable in years past. In general, the longer it has been since you were successfully treated for your cancer, the better you can expect your ratings to be. Furthermore, since cancers often recur, it is important that you have a record of regular follow-ups. If you do, you can expect better ratings. Make sure to include a copy of your pathology report when you apply, since this will contain much of the critical information that a life insurance company needs to see. Also, allow plenty of time for the insurance company to review your application.

Cancer's Effect on Insurance Rates
The table below outlines some general guidelines for expected ratings for some commons cancer scenarios.



Cancer successfully treated

Postponement for 1 to 3 years; then standard ratings w/ flat extras of $5-$15 per $1000 for 5-10 years since date of last treatment

Low stage/grade cancer successfully treated

Standard rates

If radiation or chemotherapy was used in addition to surgical removal

Add 2-4 table ratings to first scenario

Cancer is rated as "chronic disease"

Add table ratings to first scenario

More Information on Cancer
Tumors begin when the apparatus that regulates cells are disrupted and cell replication begins to spiral out of control. There are non-cancerous tumors in which the replicated cells are fairly similar to the originating tissue. These types of tumors are of little concern to underwriters since they are mostly harmless and can easily be removed.

Cancerous, or, malignant tumors are significantly more dangerous since these cells are very different from the originating tissue and have the ability to infiltrate other tissue in the body as they spread through a process called "metastasis." A matastatic cancer requires therapies such as radiation and chemotherapy, along with surgery, to be removed.

Cancer can occur anywhere in the body's organs or tissue. Statistics show that cancer will occur in about one third of the population, making it one of the most deadly diseases in the U.S. As a matter of fact, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. after cardiovascular deaths. It can be caused by all sorts of genetic and environmental variables such as lifestyle habits, and particularly smoking. As a matter of fact, studies indicated that nearly one third of all cancer is caused by smoking. Other factors play in as well. A family history of cancer automatically increases your chances of getting cancer at some point. Also, if you have ever had cancer which was successfully treated, you will have an increased chance of contracting cancer again.

Cancer cells are studied once they have been extracted using surgical removal or a biopsy. Once they are examined, the findings are outlined in the "pathology report" which is of special interest to life insurance companies. It is with this pathology report that the insurance company can get a good feel for your particular situation involving cancer.

Cancer is generally classified according to a number of factors, including how differentiated the cancerous cells are, how fast the cells grow, how aggressively the cells spread, if at all, and so on. The classification of the cancer will help determine the type of treatment to be used, which can include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgery, immunotherapy, and hormone therapy.

Important Things to Know for Those with Cancer

What are some of the issues that interest underwriters?

  • What type of cancer do you have?

  • What were the dates of your treatments?

  • What types of treatments were used?

  • Did metastasis occur? If so, to what extent?

  • Have you had regular follow-ups?


What can I do to help the underwriting process?

Be sure to provide all the names and addresses of doctors, medical facilities, etc. that have helped treat you for your cancer. The life insurance company will want to see your pathology report, so include that also. Please provide any additional relevant information and details.

Complete the following form, or call us toll-free at 888-854-7526 if you would like to speak with someone or get more information.

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