23 November 2012 0 Comments

Prostate Cancer And Life Insurance

It is often said that men with Prostate Cancer usually die with the cancer, not because of the cancer.  With that said, this second most common cancer in men (skin cancer is the most common) can have a negative impact on life expectancy and so is an important consideration in the pricing of life insurance.

A blood test known as the PSA has been the most readily available prognosticator of the presence of prostate cancer.  Recently, however, there has been some negative press regarding over-use of the PSA and potential false positive readings.  Still, insurance companies will typically order a PSA test on all male applicants age 50+, or where there have been any other indicators of potential involvement .

Generally, any PSA readings not greater than the following are acceptable:

  • Age 40-49                   2.5
  • Age 50-59                   3.5
  • Age 60-69                   4.5
  • Age 70+                       6.5

The PSA velocity is also important.  An increase in levels greater than 0.75-1.00 per year is of concern, especially if there has been a steady increase or fluctuations.

If the PSA is higher than these numbers, then the next diagnostic test might be another blood test known as a Free/Unbound PSA or an ultra-sound.  With the Free PSA a high reading is good.  Any number of 20+ would probably indicate that there is little chance of prostate cancer.  Any Free PSA reading below 14 would likely result in a postponement of any offer without obtaining further tests.

Treatment for Prostate Cancer can range from “wait and see” to surgical removal of the prostate (radical prostatectomy).    The key to getting a good life insurance quote—and to survival—is early detection.  Eleven years ago at age 66 my PSA was 4.5—within normal limits.  But it had risen more than 2.0 over the preceding 2 years.  I had a Free PSA.  It was 11—too low.  A needle biopsy showed cancer in three of the samples—one of them at a high risk stage.  So I had a radical prostatectomy.   My PSA’s have been at a zero ever since and so I would be eligible for standard life insurance from about the 4th year on.  By the way, the needle biopsy sounds much worse than it is.  It’s no big deal.

Prostate cancer detected early and treated or followed is one of the easiest of the major organ cancers for which life insurance is available at affordable prices.  Provide your agent with current PSA results, date and type of treatment and any available pathology report  for a good idea of what to expect.

Nest time it’s on to ovarian cancer, before moving to a lighter topic.

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