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Life Insurance and Prostate Cancer

I can help them purchase life insurance. They need the direction of a broker who specializes in these cases, and who can help them get approved at the rate quoted.

About the prostate

I have found that many of my clients who have a diagnosis of prostate cancer, had never paid much attention to that gland. They often feel a need to play “catch-up” to find out more about this troublesome part of their body.

Here is a brief description:

“The prostate is a gland found only in males. It is located in front of the rectum and below the urinary bladder. The size of the prostate varies with age. In younger men, it is about the size of a walnut, but it can be much larger in older men.”

“The prostate’s job is to make some of the fluid that protects and nourishes sperm cells in semen, making the semen more liquid. Just behind the prostate are glands called seminal vesicles that make most of the fluid for semen. The urethra, which is the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body through the penis, goes through the center of the prostate”. (1)

A cancer that is not too hard to find

Tests that are conducted at routine physicals can detect this cancer. These include:

“Most prostate cancers are first found during screening with a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and or a digital rectal exam (DRE). Early prostate cancers usually do not cause symptoms, but more advanced cancers are sometimes first found because of symptoms they cause. Whether cancer is suspected based on screening tests or symptoms, the actual diagnosis can only be made with a prostate biopsy”. (2)

Obviously, people who schedule annual checkups are well-positioned to catch this cancer early. Unfortunately, not everybody does this. As a matter of fact, every year I have at least one client who had not had a check-up in a while, and who then found he had prostate cancer when he completed his insurance exam! Sadly, the cancer can be fairly advanced at that point. Can you find a lesson to be learned from this story?

Not your average “C” word

In the world of cancer, the ones affecting the prostate do not take up too much room, meaning that they don’t have many types, and one in particular dominates:

“Several types of cells are found in the prostate, but almost all prostate cancers develop from the gland cells. Gland cells make the prostate fluid that is added to the semen. The medical term for a cancer that starts in gland cells is adenocarcinoma.”

“Other types of cancer can also start in the prostate gland, including sarcomas, small cell carcinomas, and transitional cell carcinomas. But these types of prostate cancer are so rare that if you have prostate cancer it is almost certain to be an adenocarcinoma. ..”

“Some prostate cancers can grow and spread quickly, but most grow slowly. In fact, autopsy studies show that many older men (and even some younger men) who died of other diseases also had prostate cancer that never affected them during their lives. In many cases neither they nor their doctors even knew they had it.” (1)

As a matter of fact, I have a relative who has had this cancer for years. The mortality statistics are still sobering, but not necessarily as scary as they are for other forms of cancer:

“Nearly 2.5 million American men live with prostate cancer. Approximately 240,000 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year alone, and almost 30,000 will die from the disease.”

“While a cancer diagnosis can surely rattle the nerves of most anyone, prostate cancer is a bit different than other forms like breast, ovarian and lung. In many cases, prostate cancer actually grows very slowly. So instead of harsh and aggressive treatment protocols, doctors may recommend watchful waiting or “active surveillance” (scans, blood testing, etc.) to monitor the cancer and its progression. Men can often go years living with prostate cancer that does not grow, spread or require treatment.” (3)

Who is watching the watcher?

This “watchful waiting” or “active surveillance” approach needs to be handled with care. I have seen physicians push it for too long and let the cancer progress dangerously. Even if they can then intervene with radical treatment , it makes the possibility of purchasing life insurance extremely remote. I have even seen doctors not take a high PSA seriously enough, and attempt to lower it artificially with drugs. Once they finally come to their senses, it can be too late. This has happened to a number of my clients, regretfully.

This approach also places a keen emphasis on lifestyle factors to control the disease. These factors can play a role in an applicant’s’ risk assessment, as has been indicated in prior articles. The more favorable they are, the more favorable the underwriting can be.

“Of course, with the watchful waiting approach, it becomes even more critical for these men to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible. Harmful habits like smoking, excessive drinking, lack of exercise and poor diet can be just the push cancer needs to go from manageable to problematic or even terminal.”

“In fact, important new research has linked bad dietary habits—in particular, eating higher amounts of “bad” fats compared to healthier monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and vegetable fats—with a higher risk of mortality from prostate cancer.” (3)

(1) “What Is Prostate Cancer?” What Is Prostate Cancer? N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2013. <http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/detailedguide/prostate-cancer-what-is-prostate-cancer>.

(2)”How Is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed?” How Is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed? N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2013. <http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/detailedguide/prostate-cancer-diagnosis>.

(3) “Fat Intake Affects Prostate Cancer Mortality.” Whole Health Insider. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2013. <http://www.wholehealthinsider.com/mens-health/fat-intake-affects-prostate-cancer-mortality/>.