I will simply start with my standard off the shelf advice. If you talk to a life insurance agent, mention you had breast cancer, and they immediately tell you that you are uninsurable, they are either stupid or lazy, or both. Go find an independent agent that understands that uninsurable is rare and in fact good rates are more the norm than the exception. Underwriting cancer, coronary artery disease, strokes and other significant health issues are hard work for the agent, but a good agent will leave no stone unturned in producing the best possible outcome.
I’m not saying that every breast cancer survivor will get great rates. Anyone who is a survivor has probably earned a degree due to the amount of study they have done on breast cancer. When you do that study you begin to understand the wide variances there can be between one case and another. Your cancer had a stage and grade and your oncologist probably told you in detail what it meant. Then you likely went to Google and made sure he or she knew what she was talking about. It went something like this.
You either had in situ breast cancer, a cancer that was isolated to either a milk duct or the lining of the breast, or you had an invasive cancer that fit into one of the following stages. :
Stage 1 The tumor measures less than 2cm. The lymph glands in the armpit are not affected and there are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere.
Stage 2 The tumor was between 2 and 5cm, or the lymph glands in the armpit are affected, or both. However, there are no signs that the cancer has spread.
Stage 3 The tumor is larger than 5cm and may be attached to something such as the muscle or skin. The lymph glands are usually affected, but there are no signs that the cancer has spread beyond the breast or the lymph glands in the armpit.
Stage 4 The tumor is of any size, but the lymph glands are usually affected and the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This is secondary or metastatic breast cancer.
Then your cancer was assigned a grade. The grade gives an idea of how quickly the cancer may develop. There are three grades: grade 1 (low-grade), grade 2 (moderate or intermediate grade) and grade 3 (high-grade).
And finally your cancer was either ER positive or ER negative. ER (Estrogen receptor) positive being the easier of the two to treat.
The same way your oncologist talked to you about how aggressive your cancer was by reviewing the stage, grade and ER status is the same way a life insurance underwriter will look at you from a mortality standpoint. A low grade or insitu cancer, stage 1 and receptor positive is going to be easier to treat and insurable at low rates sooner. A higher grade, higher stage cancer may require higher rates for some years after the end of treatment, but will eventually also be insurable at standard or better rates.
When you begin to look for life insurance, be sure you have all of the pathology information so the agent will know which companies to go to and will be able to provide the best guidance. Finally, it would be rare indeed for a post treatment breast cancer to be uninsurable.
This post is somewhat dated. Life insurance underwriting is changing and evolving continually. For more updated information check out some of the key word links. If you have a specific question or topic you need information for do a search. If you don’t find the answers you need contact me and we’ll make sure you get the information that is important to you.