Because of the exceptionally high success rate in treatment of prostate cancer, it stands out as ultimately one of the most insurable cancer histories from a life insurance underwriting view.
Prostate cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among men, but it has often been said that virtually all men who live to an old age will have prostate cancer to some degree. Very often it goes undiagnosed because it is a slow growing cancer and most men who have it will die from something else never knowing it was there. Having said that, about 1 in 35 who have been diagnosed will die from the disease.
Life insurance underwriters are forever focused on “mortality experience”, and the good news with prostate cancer is that experience is very favorable. Because of more aggressive education and screening and improved treatment, the chances of surviving a diagnosis of prostate cancer is very much in your favor. The key is screening.
For the most favorable life insurance outcome early detection’s importance can’t be overstated. Underwriters want to see diagnosis with an early stage (1 or 2) and a low to moderate grade (no more than a Gleason grade 6), coupled with a diagnosis PSA level of usually 10-12 or less. By far the majority of prostate cancer is detected these days when the PSA starts showing consistent elevation from test to test, but is still within the normal (less than 4) range.
Cancer caught at this point will almost always meet the stage and grade criteria and will ultimately be successfully treated. The final criteria to be met is post treatment. If a person opts to have a radical prostatectomy underwriters expect that the PSA will go to 0 and once it has been there for a year, often standard or better rates can be found. If treatment is done by radioactive seed implant, the PSA threshold is .5 or below for at least a year.
As mentioned in previous posts, watchful waiting is not considered by underwriters to be treatment and anyone pursuing this completely legitimate option will be treated for insurance purposes as having untreated cancer. I have yet to find a company that will not decline to offer insurance in this instance.
Bottom line. The good news from a guy’s perspective is that, if almost all of us will have prostate cancer at some point, at least it isn’t one of the devastating killer types of cancer like lung or colon cancer where survival rates are not nearly as good. If you’ve had prostate cancer and need life insurance, seek out an independent agent to help you. Be prepared to provide a pathology report and know what your current PSA is.