According to the Prostate Cancer Research Institute about 220,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed this year. About half of those will choose to have seed implant therapy, also called brachytherapy. Life insurance underwriters have a slightly different set of guidelines for determining how to treat seed implant therapy as opposed to other treatments such as a radical prostatectomy.
Seed implant treatment is one of the options for a lower stage, usually stage 1 or 2, and a low to moderate grade, Gleason 4 to 6, prostate cancer. According to Prostate Cancer Research Institute, seed implants are gaining in popularity ” due to (1) the fact that five- and ten-year disease control rates of brachytherapy equal those of the top surgical and radiation series, (2) the toxicity and side-effects are perceived to be lower, and (3) the brachytherapy involves just a single outpatient treatment.”
Life insurance underwriters look at the same factors in the beginning no matter what treatment course is chosen. Usually a low stage and low grade prostate cancer as described above, coupled with a diagnosis level PSA of 10 or below, can expect better than standard rates from several companies as long as the treatment results achieve results that fall within certain guidelines.
With a radical prostatectomy the desired treatment result is a PSA of 0. Absence of the prostate should have this result. With brachytherapy underwriters want to see the PSA at .5 or below. I have been following a case for the last six months. At the time of diagnosis his PSA was 5.3. In January he had a seed implant. We spoke today and his PSA is .48. Time to start shopping for the rates he wants to lock in.
When you have a cancer with a Gleason grade 7, the underwriters will still likely approve your insurance, but they will usually add an extra charge to the policy for several years due to the perceived increased risk. I have likened the underwriting difference between Gleason 6 and 7 in the past, to the Richter scale for earthquakes. On the Richter scale a 6 will shake everything up real good and a 7 will knock a lot of things down. When the Richter scale measures an earthquake at 8, there is mass devastation.
Bottom line. Get your information together. Know your diagnosis level PSA, your post treatment PSA, and if you don’t know the stage and grade of your prostate cancer, get a copy of your pathology report. Find an independent agent with experience in shopping prostate cancer cases. It is a matter of matching the medical information to the right company and underwriting to get you the best possible prices.