If you (or your spouse) has been diagnosed with cervical cancer recently or in the past, you may be wondering if you are eligible to get life insurance.
The short answer: Yes!
Of course, there are specific limitations. For instance, if you were recently diagnosed and haven’t gone through treatment yet, you will be denied for a traditional life insurance policy. However, if you do need life insurance and don’t want to wait until you are cancer free, you always have another option, which we will discuss below.
When it comes to health concerns like cancer, it is always best to speak with a knowledgeable licensed agent prior to getting a quote. Anyone can punch in some personal information and get a quote online, but just because you got a quote for a rate does not mean you will be approved.
The most important reason to work with an agent is so they can learn your medical history and provide you quotes with the best companies. These companies will give you the greatest chance of getting approved. Not only approved but the best rate possible for your health issues.
Now, let’s take a look at what cervical cancer is, the treatment and diagnosis process, and how we can help you get the best rate possible after your cancer diagnosis.
What is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that is only found in women. This is because only women have a uterus and cervix as part of their reproductive system. Cancer of the cervix starts as pre-cancerous cells which develop changes to form cancer.
The terms doctors use to explain these changes are:
- Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN)
- Squamous intraepithelial lesion (SIL)
There are two main types of cervical cancer – squamous cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma.
- Squamous cell carcinoma – forms in the transformation zone between the exocervix and the endocervix
- Adenocarcinoma – Develops in the mucus-producing glands of the endocervix
- Adenosquamous carcinoma/Mixed carcinomas – cancer that forms with characteristics of both types
According to the American Cancer Society, in 2019 they expect 13,170 new diagnosed cases and 4,250 women will die from invasive cervical cancer.
Women rarely have symptoms of cervical cancer. They may have vaginal bleeding or pelvic pain, which is actually quite common among women of menstruating age and can be attributed to many different conditions. Most of these conditions have nothing to do with any kind of reproductive cancer.
While there are no real symptoms to look out for, there are some risk factors that make it more likely that a woman will develop cervical cancer:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
- Having multiple children during childbearing years
- Smoking cigarettes
- Taking oral birth control contraception for a long period of time
- Being exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) in the womb
Cervical pre-cancer cells are detected by a PAP smear/test. When the smear is found to be “irregular”, further testing is done to determine what the cause was. If the lab feels that cancer may be the cause, they will send the cells for further testing to determine the type and stage.
Early detection is the key to finding cervical cancer at the pre-cancer or earliest stage. That’s why it’s imperative women receive PAP smears every year once they become sexually active.
Doctors typically say that once a woman hits 30, she only needs to be tested every three to five years until she hits 60. At that point, they may say PAPs are no longer needed, but individual factors are used to determine the age a woman should stop.
Other ways that can be used to diagnose:
- HPV test
- Endocervical curettage
The stages of cervical cancer go from Stage 0 or Carcinoma in Situ to Stage IV.
- 0 – found in the innermost lining of the cervix
- I – contained to the cervix only
- II – moved beyond the cervix has not reached the pelvic walls or lower vagina
- III – has spread to the lower vagina and/or pelvic walls, could cause kidney issues
- IV – spread beyond the pelvis to the bladder and/or rectum and could have spread to other parts of the body
The tests used to determine the staging include:
- CT scan
- PET scan
- Chest x-ray
- Pretreatment surgical staging
The type of treatment performed will depend on the stage of cancer. Types of treatment include:
- Surgery – laser therapy, cold-knife conization, loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), hysterectomy
- Targeted therapy
Women who have been treated for cancer will have to come back in for PAP tests every six months for at least the next two years. Doctors will likely only want to complete the tests every one to three years after that as long as no recurrence or irregularities were picked up during the previous PAPs. At that point, the patient can resume the normal schedule of PAP tests.
What health questions can I expect to be asked?
Besides all the standard health questions asked on every traditional life insurance application, women diagnosed with cervical cancer will have to answer further questions. This is so the underwriters reviewing your case can take a deep look at your whole health history and determine the risk you pose to by offering you a life insurance policy.
Be prepared to complete your application with the answers to these questions:
- How long ago were you diagnosed?
- The type of cancer you were diagnosed with?
- What stage is/was your cancer?
- What was the treatment prescribed?
- When was the cancer removed?
- Did you have a recurrence?
- What is your doctor’s information? This includes any specialists you had to see during cancer treatment
- Do you have a family member who was diagnosed and/or passed away due to cancer? If so, you will need to provide their relation to you, the age they were diagnosed, and age they died
What can I do to get the best rate possible for life insurance with cervical cancer?
There are several things you can do to get yourself prepared for the application process and medical exam. If you haven’t started, you will want to now, and possibly wait to complete the application if you have a few things to work on.
Get within the normal BMI range
Height and weight are part of the application process, and a body mass index (BMI) will be calculated to determine if you are at a healthy weight, overweight or obese. If you are overweight, it will affect not only your chances of getting approved but the rate you will get approved for.
It pays (in the form of a better rating and lower premium) to be at a healthy weight. If you aren’t, now is the time to get active and take charge of your eating habits so that you can slim down and get yourself to a more healthy weight.
Follow Doctors orders
If your doctor has prescribed a protocol for you to follow and you aren’t, you will risk getting denied for life insurance. Make sure that whatever your doctor is telling you to do as part of your treatment, you are following.
Take notes to prove you are doing what is being asked, and share that information as needed with the insurance company. This will ensure the underwriters know that you are following what you are supposed to do.
This is a big one!
Not only does smoking cause your rates to go up immediately, it means you have a greater likelihood of being denied for life insurance. This is especially true for someone who has had a cervical cancer diagnosis.
Some underwriters won’t even go through the rest of the medical history if they find out you are a smoker with a cervical cancer diagnosis.
Don’t risk being denied. Quit today!
Handle any other health issues
An underwriter who sees any other health issues besides cancer is probably going to deny your application. That is why it is so important to be proactive and take care of yourself.
Adopting a healthier lifestyle might also help you get rid of other health issues. You really can’t lose anything but the weight and higher insurance premiums when you take this route!
What rate can I expect for life insurance with cervical cancer?
Here is the breakdown of each rate available on a life insurance application, and the reality of what you can expect.
Almost impossible. If your arrhythmia is mild and no treatment was prescribed, you are being monitored by a cardiologist, and you are in perfect health other than your heart, you might be able to get this rating.
Highly unlikely. You have a better chance of getting a Preferred rating than Preferred Plus if all the factors listed above hold true for your health.
Possible. If you have a normal BMI, lead an active and healthy lifestyle and have no other health issues. If you have had any treatment plan that includes medication or other heart intervention, you won’t get approved with this rating.
Substandard (Table Rating
Most likely rating. A substandard rating is going to be your best rate if you aren’t active and are still have issues regulating your heartbeat. Underwriters know that heart issues typically lead to other health issues and these individuals have a higher mortality risk.
It is possible to get denied, even if this is your first life insurance application. If you have other heart or health issues and have had a device installed to regulate your heartbeat, you won’t be approved for a standard life insurance policy.
What if I don’t Qualify or the premium is too high?
If you don’t qualify for traditional life insurance and were denied or are in the middle of treatment for cancer, you do have another option available to you. That other option is guaranteed issue life insurance. As long as you have not been diagnosed as terminal, live in a state that offers this type of insurance, and are able to pay the premium, you will be approved.
The biggest drawbacks to guaranteed issue life insurance are that it is the most expensive form of life insurance and it offers a low death benefit amount (typically no more than $50,000). But, if you don’t have any life insurance, it is a great choice to have something in place.
Plus, once your cancer has been cured and some time has passed, you can always apply for traditional life insurance at that time.
Premium is too expensive
If the premium is out of reach for your budget, there are a couple of options.
You can request a lower death benefit amount, which will lower the cost, but provide less to your beneficiary when you die. You also have the option of getting a guaranteed issue life policy if the premium makes sense and you can afford it.
If you already have some life insurance in place the best option for you, if the premium is too expensive now, is to wait and reapply. You run the risk of having other health issues come up as you age, but the further away you are from having your cervical cancer removed and not recur, the more likely you will get a better rating which will lower your premium.
If you are ready to speak with one of our licensed agents who can give you the best quote to fit your health, start today by getting a free quote.