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Ask an Underwriter: Prostate Cancer’s Impact on Life Insurance


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Let’s be honest: Cancer is scary. No one wants to hear this diagnosis, but understanding the type of cancer and treatment options, along with early detection, is key. This is especially important when determining insurability of a client.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers we see in underwriting. What is it? It’s a cancer that starts in the prostate gland, which is part of the male reproductive system. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it’s the most common type of male cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men.

 

Risks Factors and Symptoms

There are many precursors of possible prostate cancer, and risk increases with age. CDC statistics show 5.84 percent of men currently age 60 will get prostate cancer within the next 10 years. That’s nearly six out of 100 men.

Symptoms of prostate cancer include:

  • Trouble with urination or decrease 
  • Discomfort of the pelvic region
  • Erectile dysfunction

 

Detection

Two tests that are common in early detection of prostate cancer are Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) and Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). The DRE is essential in making sure the size of the prostate is normal, smooth and no abnormalities can be felt, while the PSA is a blood test that measures the levels of the prostate. 

Elevated PSA levels can be a pre-cursor for prostate cancer; however, they are not indicative of actual prostate cancer. When high levels of PSA are seen, there’s a higher risk for prostate-related disease. In these individuals, routine screening is essential and may warrant a prostate biopsy at their doctor’s discretion. A prostate biopsy is the only procedure that can detect the actual prognosis of prostate cancer.

 

Treatment

Treatment of prostate cancer varies, depending on the staging of the cancer. The most common treatments are radiation therapy, (external beam and/or brachytherapy) hormone therapy, or a radical prostatectomy, which removes the prostate. Once treatment has been successful, routine PSAs are done to evaluate levels and check for possible recurrence. 

With medical advancements, we are seeing an increase in the number of physicians taking conservative treatment measures through watchful waiting for those with early stage, localized prostate cancer.  This method of treatment closely monitors PSA levels on an interval basis, such as every six months.

 

Prostate Cancer and Underwriting

Depending on the client’s age, staging and treatment, along with currently undetectable PSA levels and no recurrence of disease after one year, we have seen life insurance carriers give possible consideration of coverage with a small flat extra or table rating.

Generally, the most favorable cases are individuals who are diagnosed over the age of 55 with localized, organ-confined prostate cancer, a Gleason score of six or less, a radical prostatectomy and PSA levels undetectable after three years. These clients may qualify for standard, non-smoker rates.    

Our prostate cancer underwriting questionnaire can help guide your conversations with clients by obtaining the details essential for an accurate assessment. No matter the situation, we encourage you to ask questions and get all the facts. If you have a specific scenario you would like to discuss, please reach out to me at Kiana.Chiarulli@ashbrokerage.com or contact your dedicated Ash Brokerage underwriter.

 

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About the Author

Kiana has been working in the brokerage industry for 20 years, with the last 15 years in underwriting. As an underwriter at Ash Brokerage, she truly loves serving as a client advocate because she values the responsibility of satisfying each client's planning needs.