When Prostate Cancer is diagnosed, usually through a biopsy procedure, a specific stage will be assigned. The staging refers to the extent of cancer (how much cancer is present and how far it has spread), stage I-IV. Staging is a big piece of the puzzle in underwriting, along with a Gleason Score, which is based on the tumor pattern the pathologist sees.
Life Insurance with Prostate Cancer
What Is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is cancer that occurs in the prostate — a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. Usually, prostate cancer grows slowly and is initially confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm. However, while some types of prostate cancer grow slowly and may need minimal or even no treatment, other types are aggressive and can spread quickly.
Risk of prostate cancer
About 1 man in 9 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
Prostate cancer develops mainly in older men and in African-American men. About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.
Can I Qualify for Life Insurance if I have Prostate Cancer?
Yes, most individuals with Prostate Cancer will be able to qualify for traditional life insurance, the type of insurance that requires a medical exam.
However, these types of approvals can only be offered by life insurance companies that are accustomed to high-risk life insurance cases.
Prostate cancer may cause no signs or symptoms in its early stages.
Prostate cancer that’s more advanced may cause signs and symptoms such as:
- Trouble urinating
- Decreased force in the stream of urine
- Blood in semen
- Discomfort in the pelvic area
- Bone pain
- Erectile dysfunction
Getting Life Insurance with Prostate Cancer
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.
Debate continues regarding the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening, and medical organizations differ on their recommendations. Discuss prostate cancer screening with your doctor. Together, you can decide what’s best for you.
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.
Manifestations of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer usually doesn’t cause symptoms in its early stages. Most men don’t know they have it until it is found during a regular medical exam.
When problems are noticed, they are most often problems with urinating. But these same symptoms can also be caused by an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia). An enlarged prostate is common in older men.
What are the Cancer stages?
Like other cancers, the growth and spread of prostate cancer is described in stages. In prostate cancer, we have 1 to 4 stages, with 1 being the least aggressive and 4 being the most aggressive.
Stage-1 Prostate Cancer
The tumour is non-detectable by an imaging test or a physical examination in this early stage of prostate cancer. Meaning, the cancer has not spread outside of the prostate. Discovery of prostate cancer at this stage is almost 80%, with a 5-year survival rate of almost 100%.
Stage-2 Prostate Cancer (Divided Into IIA and IIB Stages)
The tumour may or may not be detectable through a physical examination or imaging tests and still has not spread outside of the prostate. However, in stage-2 the cells have a higher Gleason score and may grow more quickly.
Stage-3 Prostate Cancer (III)
In this stage, the cancer has now spread beyond the prostate and may spread to the nearby seminal vesicles. This can include some stage-4 prostate cancers that, while they have other advanced indicators, still have not moved to other organs. As with local stage prostate cancers, the 5-year survival rate is nearly 100%.
Stage-4 Prostate Cancer (IV)
This is the last stage of prostate cancer and describes a tumor that has spread to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, bones, or bladder. For these cancers, the 5-year survival rate is 29%.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
Keep in mind that every case is different and that statistics such as these are only general guidelines.
With advancements in prostate cancer treatment happening at a greater rate, your chances for surviving this disease are increasing.
If your diagnostics show stage 1 or 2, you can qualify for preferred rates, provided your overall health is good.
Stage 3, you may still be able to get life insurance but may need to wait longer after treatment.
If you had stage 4, it will be impossible to get a traditional life insurance and you may need to opt for a guaranteed issue policy.
Prostate Cancer Treatment
Depending on the stage of the prostate cancer, there are several methods of treatment that you doctor will recommend.
Men who are diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer may not receive any treatment.
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.
Life Insurance with Prostate Cancer Sample Monthly Rates
50-Year-Old Male Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term
60-Year-Old Male Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term
70-Year-Old Male Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term
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.