Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men (skin cancer is the more common). About one in ten men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their Healthtime. Many others have the condition but will never be diagnosed with it, dying from other causes; only 10% of men diagnosed with prostate cancer die from it. A key risk factor for prostate cancer is age. It is estimated that approximately 10% of men in their 50s have the condition; this rises to 40% for men in their early 70s, and to over 70% of men in their 80s. Most men who reach their 90s are assumed to have prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer and Health Insurance stage and grades:
stage refers to tumor size and spread; grade indicates how aggressive the cancer is. The cancer grade identifies cell types being “well differentiated” (similar to non-cancerous cells) or “poorly differentiated” (very different from non-cancerous cells). Lower grades (I & II) are indicated for less aggressive cell types; grades III and IV are reserved for more aggressive, poorly differentiated cell types. Sometimes prostate cancer is rated with a Gleason score. Low grade (Grade I & II) cancers have Gleason scores of six or less. Gleason scores of seven and higher are high grade cancers (Grade III +). The most favorable survival/cure rates are for cancers that are detected early, are still small, slow growing, with cells that are very similar to healthy prostate cells; these cancers are identified by a low stage and grade. Find a Prostate Cancer Health Insurance Quote Here!
How do you detect Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is typically suspected by abnormal Digital Rectal Exam during an annual physical or via the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test. Most insurance companies now routinely test the blood of proposed insured males over age 50 for their level of PSA. Due to more reliable PSA testing, the rate of prostate cancer detection is steadily rising. PSA is produced only by prostate cells; a certain level of PSA is normal for healthy men. Physicians look for the total amount of PSA present relative to the total size of the prostate. A healthy prostate cell is known to produce “X” amount of PSA whereas an abnormal (possibly cancerous) prostate cell may generate PSA with a factor of up to ten times greater. Thus, as cancer cells multiply, the total level of PSA relative to a normal (expected) level of PSA should rise. This is measured as the level of PSA density. Similarly, an abnormally high rate of PSA increases over time may hint at possible prostate cancer. The rate of this increase is referred to as PSA velocity. Note that an enlargement of the prostate is typical of the aging process. An increase of PSA by as much as .75 to 1 ng/ml per year is considered unremarkable. However, a rate of increase higher than this, especially over a period of more than a year, may indicate prostate cancer and warrants further evaluation. High PSA levels often indicate cancer. About 2/3 of males with a PSA of 10 or higher will show cancer with biopsy. Find a Prostate Cancer Health Insurance Quote Here!
The following chart will help you evaluate your PSA levels which in turn will help you be able to shop your information to try and obtain a Health insurance policy for prostate cancer survivor.
Age based reference ranges foracceptable, normal PSA levels:
Age 40 – 49 up to 2.5 ng/ml Age 60 – 69 up to 4.5 ng/ml
Age 50 – 59 up to 3.5 ng/ml Age 70 + up to 6.5 ng/ml
PSA Density: this is a measure of total PSAin relation to prostate size. A lower density is better. This number is obtained by dividing the PSA by the size of the prostate gland from an ultrasound report. A value greater than 0.20 will be treated as suspicious for cancer.
PSA Velocity: measure of PSA changes over time. The faster the rise, the higher the velocity, the more cancer is suspect.
An increase in the PSA levels greater than 0.75-1.00 ng/ml per year is of concern, especially if the value is steadily rising over a period of a year or more (wide fluctuations being a more likely indicator of non-malignant prostate irritation or prostatitis).
Free/Unbound PSA: free PSA is NOT bound to protein. High levels of PSA bound to protein can be an indicator for cancer.
Levels of free PSA less than 20% of the total PSA is a possible indicator for cancer. High levels of free (unbound) PSA indicate a lower likelihood of cancer.
Prostate Cancer and Life Insurance Impact on Life Underwriting:
Prostate cancer is most frequently treated with surgical removal, radiation, and/or chemotherapy. Other therapies, including castration for certain early stage/grade cancers, are also used. Some elderly patients with low stage/grade cancers decide to forgo any treatment due to the potential side effects (which can include incontinence and impotence).
Underwriting assessments depend on the stage and grade of the cancer, the type of treatment selected, and the time elapsed since the date of last treatment. Most underwriters prefer surgical removal of the prostate to other forms of therapy. Some medical directors are willing to make offers immediately following surgical removal of a prostate with a low stage and grade cancer. But typically you will need to have at least 6 months to a year of good follow up and low PSA levels before you can obtain an offer. You will also most likely have a flat extra charge for the first 5 years of the policy. Please visit the links below to obtain a free no obligation Health insurance quote for your condition.