Life Insurance for Cancer

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Researching how to get life insurance for cancer patients and/or survivors? In this guide, we’ll go over what you need to know to get coverage, then work with you directly to shop life insurance quotes with and without medical exams and get you insured at the lowest cost possible.

If you feel your health could prevent you from being approved for a life insurance policy, contact us. Very rarely can we not find a solution for most people seeking life insurance with pre-existing conditions.

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Cancer Guidelines

Cancer is a general term used to describe any of the multiple types of malignant tumors (neoplasms), and can affect any organ or tissue in the body and is characterized by inappropriate cell growth.

One-third of all people in the U.S. will develop cancer in their lifetime, and it is second only to cardiovascular disease as a cause of death.

Cancer cells look abnormal under a microscope. They tend to have a large and irregular nucleus that reflects the abnormal cell division and DNA content.

The percent of mitotic (actively dividing) cells is roughly proportional to the tumor’s growth rate.

Doubling time is a term that refers to the time it takes for a tumor mass to double in size. For a tumor to reach the size of usual clinical detectability, it has already undergone approximately 30 doublings to reach 1 billion cells.

Only 10 more doubling cycles are needed to produce a tumor burden of 1 kg, which is usually considered lethal.

A definite diagnosis of cancer is made by examining the actual abnormal cells under a microscope. This information is present in the APS (attending physician’s statement) in the pathology report.

Cells are obtained for diagnosis, usually by a biopsy. The pathology report is almost always needed by underwriting when evaluating cancer history unless the diagnosis was very remote.

The “aggressiveness” of cancer is referred to as Grade. Grading is determined by the number of cells undergoing mitosis (cell division).

The higher the grade, the more rapid the growth of cancer and the more likely a distant spread.

Most cancers are graded on a scale of I to IV, with Grade I being the most favorable and Grade III-IV having the worst prognosis.

Staging of cancer refers to the extent of the tumor mass, including the size and spread.

The most commonly used staging system is called TNM, which stands for:

  • T: Tumor Size
  • N: Regional Lymph Node Spread
  • M: Metastasis (spreading of cancer)

A large tumor mass and any spread beyond the original tissue are poor prognostic factors.

Treatment

Depending on the type of cancer and stage, treatment can include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immuno-therapy
  • Hormonal therapy

Underwriting

When underwriting a cancer history, the following factors are important in assessing the risk:

  • Age of the applicant
  • Type and grade of cancer or tumor
  • The tissue of origin (i.e., colon, prostate, breast, etc.)
  • Type of treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation treatment)
  • Grade Time since treatment has ended.
  • Stage Any recurrences or relapses
  • Time since diagnosis
  • Time since treatment has ended.
  • Any recurrences or relapses

Examples of Eligibility

Those seeking life insurance who have been treated for one of the cancers shown below may be eligible for a Preferred Non-Tobacco or Preferred Smoker rating if certain criteria are met. Some loose examples are :

Thyroid Cancer

  • Early-stage thyroid cancers can be considered once in remission for at least 1 month.
  • If the cancer is more advanced, the waiting period longer.
  • No aggressive histology present.
  • Tumor completely removed.
  • No more than one relapse and all treatment concluded.

Cervical Cancer

  • Stage 1 cervical cancer can be considered once in remission for at least 1 month, depending on the cancer type.
  • Stage 2 cervical cancer can be considered once in remission for at least 2 years, depending on the cancer type.
  • Stage 3 cervical cancer can be considered once in remission for at least 4 years.
  • Stage 4 cervical cancer is typically declined.

Prostate Cancer

  • Early-stage prostate cancers can be considered once in remission for at least 1 month, depending on the age at diagnosis and the cancer details.
  • The more advanced the prostate cancer, the longer the waiting period.

Testicular Cancer

  • Stage 1 can be considered once in remission.
  • Stage 2 can be considered once in remission for at least 1 month, depending on the age of diagnosis and cancer details.
  • Stage 3 can be considered once in remission for at least 2 years, depending on the age at diagnosis and cancer details.

Brain Cancer/Tumor

  • Acoustic neuroma and benign meningioma completely removed with no recurrence can be considered once removed.
  • If the brain cancer is in remission for at least 2 years, one could get highly rated coverage.

Breast Cancer

  • Most early-stage breast cancers that are effectively treated can be considered at least 2 years after treatment is completed and depending on the cancer type.
  • Advanced breast cancers would require a longer waiting period to be considered for coverage.
  • If any recurrence or distant metastasis will typically be declined.

Colon Cancer

  • Stage 1 colon cancer can be considered once in remission for at least 1 month and depending on the cancer type.
  • Stage 2 colon cancer can be considered once in remission for at least 2 years and depending on the cancer type.
  • Stage 3 colon cancer can be considered once in remission for at least 4 years and depending on the cancer type.
  • Stage 4 colon cancer is typically declined.
  • Every carrier is different, so please contact us before applying. You might have less of a waiting period.

Leukemia

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)

  • Adults can be considered once in remission at least 4 years and depending on the type of treatment and age when the leukemia was first discovered.
  • Children at least 16 years old can be considered once in remission for at least 10 years.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)

  • Adults can be considered once in remission for at least 3 years.
  • Children at least 16 years old can be considered once in remission for at least 5 years.

Chronic Lymphoblastic Leukemia (CLL)

  • Applicants age 55 and older with stage 0 can be considered after 2 years of remission.
  • Applicants diagnosed under the age of 55 will be declined.

Lung Cancer

  • Stage 1 lung cancer can be considered once in remission for at least 3 years.
  • Some types of stage 2 lung cancer can be considered once in remission for at least 4 years.
  • Other types of stage 2 lung cancer and all stage 3 and 4 lung cancers are typically declined.
  • You’ll be declined if you’re still smoking tobacco products.

Melanoma

  • Stage 0 melanoma in situ can be considered once removed.
  • Stage 1A melanoma can be considered once in remission for at least 1 month.
  • Stage 1B melanoma can be considered once in remission for at least 1 year.
  • Stage 2A melanoma can be considered once in remission for at least 2 years.
  • Stage 2B melanoma can be considered once in remission for at least 3 years.
  • Stage 2 melanoma can be considered once in remission for at least 4 years.
  • Stage 3 and 4 melanoma are typically declined.

Ovarian Cancer

  • Stage 1 ovarian cancer can be considered once in remission for at least 1 month, depending on the cancer type.
  • Certain types of stage 2, 3, and 4 ovarian cancer can be considered once in remission for at least 1 year.
  • Other types of stage 2, 3, and 4 ovarian cancers can be declined.

Kidney Cancer

  • Stage 1 kidney cancer can be considered once in remission for at least 2 years.
  • Stage 2 kidney cancer can be considered once in remission for at least 3 years.
  • Stage 3 kidney cancer can be considered once in remission for at least 4 years.
  • Stage 4 kidney cancer is typically declined.

Hodgkin’s Disease and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Hodgkin’s Disease

  • Stage 1, 2, and 3A can be considered once in remission for at least 1 year, depending on the cancer details.
  • Stage 3B and 4 are typically declined.

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

  • Stage 1, 2, and 3 can be considered once in remission for at least 1 month, depending on the cancer details.
  • Stage 4 is typically declined.

*This material is intended for insurance informational purposes only and is not personal medical advice for clients.  Rates and availability will vary based on the satisfaction of the underwriting criteria.

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Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

I’m a licensed financial professional focusing on annuities and insurance for more than a decade. My former role was training financial advisors, including for a Fortune Global 500 insurance company. I’ve been featured in Time Magazine, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, and Women’s Health Magazine.

The Annuity Expert is an online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. My goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning or find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates for you. 

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