Life (Insurance) After Breast Cancer

The month of October is dedicated to celebrating, educating and bringing awareness to breast cancer. It is the most common cancer in women worldwide and second most common cancer overall.

It is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in less developed countries and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among American women, surpassed by lung cancer. It was noted by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) that nearly 1.7 million women around the globe were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer death rates have decreased by 34 percent from 1990 to 2010 due to improvements in treatment and early detection.

A reason why breast cancer is and will continue to be a health issue is that the disease knows no boundaries. It can develop in a woman (or even a man) who has no family history of the disease or who lacks prominent warning signs. Statistically speaking, men only account for about one percent of all breast cancer cases.

Prominent warning signs involve the following symptoms: pain in the breast or chest; itchy breast; upper back, shoulder and neck pain; changes in breast shape, size or appearance; change in nipple appearance or sensitivity; swelling or lump in your armpit; and red, swollen breasts.

While significant advancements have been made in recent years, there is still a lot of ground that needs to be covered in order to beat breast cancer.

The developing world has seen higher mortality rates than ever before due to the lack of screening services and access to vital treatment. In the United States, barriers to proper diagnosis and care have been created due to social and economic factors.

However, advancements all the way from the research phase up to the treatment phase have developed, which has revolutionized industry professionals’ understanding of the cancer as a whole.

Scientists now have a better understanding on how the cancer develops, how to prevent it from progressing and how to better treat the cancerous cells.

Through their work, scientists have discovered that every breast cancer case is unique and does not fall into the one-size-fits-all treatment scenario. This revolutionary idea has led to more precise medicine and individualized treatments, which has ultimately improved the survival rate.

Different types of treatment are available for patients with the disease – some treatments are standard while others are still in the clinical phase. Standard treatments are those that are most frequently used and clinical trials are part of research studies meant to discover new treatments or to obtain more information about the disease.

There are currently six types of standard treatments being used:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Bone-directed therapy

Since breast cancer is a fairly well-known type of cancer, the life insurance industry has had considerable experience with underwriting and insuring individuals with this condition. Like any other condition or risk factor, some life insurance companies are more strict with how they rate breast cancer while others are more lenient.

Because there are so many factors that go into analyzing each individual case of breast cancer, an applicant will need to supply an extensive, detailed summary of their case during the underwriting process.

The following questions may be asked during the underwriting process:

  • What was the date of diagnosis?
  • How was the cancer removed and treated?
  • When was treatment completed?
  • Is any medication currently being taken?
  • What stage was the cancer?
  • What was the size of the tumor?
  • If any lymph nodes were involved, how many?
  • Has there been any evidence of recurrence? If so, please supply details.
  • What was the date and results of the last mammogram?

The type of treatment a breast cancer patient undergoes has a significant impact on the type of life insurance policy they could obtain, as recurrence and/or spread of breast cancer can occur as long as 30 years after initial diagnosis.

With this being said, it is recommended that you shop around for life insurance because coverage varies from company to company. More and more companies are offering life insurance coverage to breast cancer survivors, so there is hope a survivor can secure financial security for their family.

While no company is likely to award their absolute best “super preferred” premium rate for a [breast] cancer survivor, some are underwriting survivors with their next-to-best premium rate class with the most common being preferred or standard.

If you are a breast cancer survivor, consider contacting a licensed life insurance agent to see what is your best possible option for coverage.

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