We’ve all heard the lead in, “I’ve got good news and bad news”. It seems with the potentially preventive drug for prostate cancer, Finasteride, there may be good news and bad…..and bad news and good news…..
In the best of all worlds we just don’t get cancer. While we are a long ways from any kind of a prostate cancer immunization, the most recent studies with Finasteride has shown some hope that the risk of contracting prostate cancer can be decreased by about 25%.
The bad news part of the roller coaster was that while there was a reduction in incidence, those taking the drug that did get prostate cancer, tended to get a higher grade, or more aggressive cancer. The good news in the most recent studies is that the drug, by decreasing the size of the prostate, makes it easier to detect the cancer on the biopsy and that means that the slightly higher incidence of high grade cancer is offset by the fact that it can be detected earlier.
I’ve often talked about how the stage and grade of a cancer affect life insurance underwriting. Obviously the more aggressive the cancer, the more there is a chance to spread. If a cancer can be detected early, even though it is high grade, it can be stopped before it becomes invasive. From an underwriting standpoint that is very good.
Along the same line,Tamoxifen has been shown to be effective at preventing recurrence of breast cancer. It is this type of break through that will someday cut the incidence, severity and recurrence enough that life insurance underwriters will be revamping their guidelines.
Bottom line. Prostate cancer, once treated, is in most cases insurable at standard or better rates with a low to medium stage and grade. When the cancer spreads, it complicates the underwriting and generally raises the cost of the insurance. A drug that can reduce the chance of a getting the cancer and make a more aggressive cancer more easily detected could be a home run for prostate cancer survivors that need life insurance and a silent home run for those who will never get the cancer.