With life insurance companies there has always been something of a line in the sand when underwriting prostate cancer history. That line has hung on the grade of the cancer as determined by the Gleason score.
I’ve often described the Gleason score grading system for prostate cancer as being akin to the Richter scale for determining the strength of an earthquake. With most companies a Gleason 5 is hardly worth noting, while a Gleason 6 is insurable at good rates as long as the stage of the cancer is low, but when you’ve reached a Gleason 7, most companies would prefer not to talk to you. Most companies during the first 10 years post treatment on a Gleason 7 will offer not better than a highly rated policy.
I am currently shopping a case that is a Gleason 7 and a fairly low stage. The person is 5 years post treatment and most companies, predictably, came back with offers of highly rated policies or policies with flat extra charges for several years. Lincoln National came back with a standard rate offer. I even asked them twice to be sure but they seem very confident in their trial offer and the client is, for good reason, very interested.
Prostate cancer is ultimately one of the most survivable cancers for men. In younger men, 40’s and 50’s, the cancer is often treated pretty aggressively either with radioactive seed implants or a radical prostatectomy. Quite often when the cancer is discovered in someone in their 60’s or 70’s, unless it is a very high grade and stage, meaning very aggressive, doctors will often recommend a watch and wait approach. Lower stage and grade prostate cancer is very slow growing and while certainly cancer, can almost be benign in the whole mortality risk scheme of things.
Bottom line. In a business where we work almost exclusively for those with health impairments, a light at the end of the tunnel or on the horizon, or a light at all, in underwriting is a welcome sight.