I am currently shopping for life insurance for a 50 year old nurse who had breast cancer in 2001. She had a lumpectomy and there was “a very small amount of cancer cells” found in one of the sentinel lymph nodes checked. Because of the lymph node she was given a choice to do chemo and radiation and chose to do it because her mother was also a breast cancer survivor. In 2006 she chose to do an elective bilateral mastectomy. There weren’t any changes or other symptoms, just a pro-active choice to takes breast cancer out of the equation because of family history.

Well, you know me. The first thing I always ask for when shopping for life insurance for cancer survivors is a pathology report. I knew the chances were slim being 14 years ago and honestly I kind of expected we could possibly shop the life insurance without the breast cancer being that long ago, with the elective aggressive treatment both with chemo and radiation followed with the mastectomy. Sure enough she didn’t have any available documentation so I sent out the following email to life insurance underwriters.

“Nurse born 12/25/1964, 5’6, 150, non smoker. Breast cancer 1/2002. No pathology report available. Lumpectomy. One sentinel node positive. Given the option she chose to have chemo and radiation. 10/2006 had elective bilateral mastectomy. No cancer anywhere, just wanted to reduce possibility due to family history. Cholesterol has run high in the past, around 250, but hdl offsets any concern by doctor so it isn’t treated. Mother breast cancer age 72, survived and died age 81 of pancreatic cancer. Father diagnosed with lung cancer age 60, lung removed. Lived to age 79. Looking for $250k term.”

The answers I got were as wide spread as anything I’ve shopped in a while, primarily due to the lack of pathology parameters. The follow is a sampling. Lincoln National said “Regret that based on young age diagnosed with breast cancer history, we will not be able to make any offer”. Prudential offered “Non-Smoker Plus may be best available due to breast cancer, assuming it was Stage 1B, tumor less than or equal to 2.0 cm, and 1-3 axillary or intramammary nodes positive, without recurrence.” So, two aggressive impaired risk life insurance companies, one saying possible standard plus if we can find the pathology to “no thanks”. Symetra said “would appear tentative table 2 plus flat extra of $10 per thousand for 3 years, but possibility of better rate with pathology”. Tranamerica was more middle of the road with “offer of Table B/2 NT subject to stage not more than IIB”. Genworth and Minnesota Life were at standard. American General appeared scared to death by it with, “Possible table B to a C with a $10/k flat extra for 3 years, s/t complete path details. This offer assumes stage 1 or 2 only, and no evidence of +BRCA gene.”

Bottom line. The client is doing more searching for pathology information now. Even 14 years post breast cancer with no recurrence companies, and I suppose rightly so, just can’t get aggressive on informal quotes without knowing more about the roots of the health issue. If you have questions or have tried to get life insurance post stage I or II breast cancer and have been told no, call or email me directly. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk.

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