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Life Insurance & Skin Cancer
Melanoma is one of the most serious types of skin cancer. Melanoma is predominantly found on the skin but can occur in other location such as the eye. It begins in skin cells called melanocytes.
Melanocytes make melanin, which gives skin its color. It also protects the deeper layers of the skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
When people spend time in the sunlight, the melanocytes make more melanin and cause the skin to tan. This also happens when skin is exposed to other forms of ultraviolet light like tanning booths.
If the skin receives too much ultraviolet light, the melanocytes may begin to grow abnormally and become cancerous. This condition is called melanoma.
Melanoma Risk Factors
Melanoma can happen to anyone. You could get melanoma regardless of your gender or age.
But certain factors put you at increased risk:
• Ultraviolet light exposure
• Atypical, or dysplastic, moles
• Multiple benign moles
• Fair complexion
• Family history
• Conditions and medications that suppress the immune system
For 2018, the American Cancer Society estimates:
• 87,110 new melanomas will be diagnosed.
• Approximately 9,730 will die from melanoma.
• The incidence rate of melanoma has steadily increased for the past thirty years.
Melanoma Treatment and Prevention
Get to know your skin and call your doctor if you notice any changes.
The best way to prevent skin cancer is to reduce your exposure to sunlight. Try to avoid prolonged sun exposure between 10 am and 4 pm when the ultraviolet light is most intense. Protect the skin by wearing hats and sunscreen and avoid tanning beds.
To treat melanoma, the skin cancer, and some surrounding tissue has to be removed. The amount of skin removed depends on how deep the melanoma has grown. If the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, these lymph nodes may also be removed.
Treatment becomes more difficult when the melanoma has spread to other organs. You may also receive:
• Chemotherapy to kill cancer cells. It is usually given if the melanoma has returned or spread.
• Immunotherapy medications such as interferon or interleukin to help your immune system fight cancer. They may be used along with chemotherapy and surgery.
• Radiation treatments to relieve pain or discomfort caused by cancer that has spread.
What Life Insurance Companies Look For
Life insurance companies want to see that applicants with a history of melanoma have (1) received full treatment, and (2) have completed regular follow-up visits per doctor’s orders. The life insurance company you apply with will be looking specifically at:
How to Prepare For Your Term Life Insurance Application
There are important measures you can take to prepare yourself before applying for term life insurance. Doing so will help your chances of getting approved for the best rating class possible.
Use the following tips to get the best possible rate:
• Have all doctors’ name/address/phone available.
• Make sure your doctor(s) has copies of all records regarding the cancer treatment, pathology reports, and follow up reports.
• Have a list of all medications and their dosages available.
• Do not skip any follow up visits with your doctor.
Real Examples from Real Customers
• Diagnosed at age 48
• He has no family history of melanoma
• His medical records clearly document his successful treatment
• Regular checkups with the dermatologist have all been normal
• Outcome: Approved at a Standard Plus rating class
• Premium: $294 annually
Not so Good Outcome
• Diagnosed at 40
• Had a 3 mm melanoma with ulceration removed
• Follow up visits with the dermatologist have been favorable
• Outcome: Approved at a Substandard Table 2 rating plus a flat extra of $10 per thousand for three years
• Premium: $1,296 annually
• Diagnosed at 53
• Treated for Melanoma metastatic to three lymph nodes
• A parent and sibling died from melanoma
• This applicant has not seen a doctor for eighteen months
• Outcome: Declined
Receiving regular follow-up appointments with his doctor also helped. Robert’s melanoma was extensive, and although he had no other medical conditions and good follow up results, the thickness of his cancer gave him a worse prognosis.
Finally, Sally had the poorest outcome. Her melanoma was the most severe, and she had a family history of melanoma. This along with her lack of routine follow-ups resulted in the decline of her application.
What This All Means to You
The bad news is the approval, and rating class can be very unpredictable and subjective. However, if you follow the advice we’ve provided and, more importantly, discuss your situation with your life insurance agent or broker, you can have a positive outcome.
And remember, if you are not pleased with the offer you receive, you can always try with another company or put the policy in force and work on improving the rating class through better control and lab results.