10 Breast Cancer Questions Life Insurance Companies Ask (Infographic)

Heidi Mertlich Heidi Mertlich
Posted in Risk

1 in 8 women get breast cancer. Today, I’m the one. – Julia Louis-Dreyfus, September 28, 2017

1 in 8 is staggering.

No doubt, breast cancer is pervasive. In the United States:

  • It’s the most common form of cancer (other than skin) in women, no matter your race or ethnicity.
  • Approximately 236,968 women and 2,141 men in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer annually.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 cancers diagnosed in women are breast cancers.
  • 85% of those diagnosed have no family history of the disease.

(Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Some good news: breast cancer is more treatable today than ever before. Survival rates are steadily increasing and death rates continue to decline.

Some more good news: it is possible to secure life insurance after a breast cancer diagnosis.

Life insurance companies are well aware that breast cancer treatment often has a high rate of success. They regularly underwrite life insurance applicants with a history of breast cancer.

What you need to know:

10 Questions Life Insurance Companies Will Ask About Breast Cancer

Example Life Insurance Applicants

Prepare For Your Life Insurance Application

How To Apply


breast cancer life insurance

1. What was the date of your diagnosis?

Life insurance underwriters (that’s who evaluates risk during the application process) want to know how long ago your breast cancer started. Specifically, they need to know your age when you were initially diagnosed.

2. What was the date of your last treatment?

Underwriters want to know if you have successfully completed treatment. And if so, they will ask how long you have been in remission (the longer, the better).

3. What is the exact name of the type of breast cancer you were diagnosed with?

The term, breast cancer, is used to describe different types of cancer. Breasts contain different types of cells. The exact cancer diagnosis is determined partly by which cells are affected. For example:

  1. Carcinomas are the most common type of breast cancer.
    1. Originate in the epithelial cells of the breast.
    2. Most carcinomas are adenocarcinomas, stemming from ducts or lobules.
  2. Sarcomas are a rare form of breast cancer, accounting for less than 1% of cases.
    1. Begin in the connective tissue of the breast.
    2. Tend to be larger at diagnosis than other types of breast cancer.
  3. Phyllodes are also a rare from of breast cancer, accounting for less than 1% of cases.
    1. Meaning leaflike in Greek, phyllodes tumors grow in a leaflike pattern.
    2. Many phyllodes tumors are benign (noncancerous).
    3. Tend to grow quickly, but rarely spread outside the breast.
  4. Paget disease of the breast is an uncommon form of breast cancer, accounting for 1-4% of cases.
    1. Involves the skin of the nipple, typically the areola.
    2. Often associated with additional breast tumors (usually adenocarcinomas).
  5. Angiosarcomas are rare and account for about 1% of soft-tissue breast cancers.
    1. Primary angiosarcoma is diagnosed in women who have never had cancer before.
    2. Secondary angiosarcoma is diagnosed in women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer previously.
      1. Associated with previous radiation treatment.
    3. Can grow and spread quickly.

(Sources: American Cancer Society, Johns Hopkins Medicine)

4. What stage of breast cancer did you have?

  • Stage 0 (ductile carcinoma in-situ)
  • Stage 0 (lobular carcinoma in-situ)
  • Stage 0 (Paget’s disease of the nipple)
  • Stage I
  • Stage II
  • Stage IIIA
  • Stage IIIB
  • Stage IV

5. Was the cancer graded? If so, what grade was assigned?

  • Grade I
  • Grade II
  • Grade III
  • Grade IV

6. How has the breast cancer been medically treated?

  • Excisional biopsy (limited excision)
  • Partial masectomy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Bone marrow transplant
  • Lumpectomy (wide excision)
  • Modified radical mastectomy
  • Radical mastectomy

7. Do you take medications currently?

If so, what is the name of medication(s), dates used, quantity taken and frequency taken?

8. Has there been any evidence of recurrence?

Thankfully, the majority of individuals who have experienced breast cancer will not have a recurrence. The highest risk for recurrence is within the first two years following treatment.

9. Has there ever been any other type of cancer diagnosed?

Some cancers occur more often (although still uncommon) after a breast cancer diagnosis:

  • Second breast cancer
  • Salivary gland cancer
  • Esophagus cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Ovarian cancer

10. Do you have any other type of medical condition?

Conditions associated with breast cancer include:

Example Life Insurance Applicants (Breast Cancer Survivors)

For a general idea, let’s look at a few examples of life insurance applicants. Keep in mind, examples are for informational purposes only. Every applicant’s circumstances and application outcomes are unique.

  • June was diagnosed with breast cancer at 37 years old. She is currently 48 years old.
    • Diagnosed with Stage 0 (lobular carcinoma in-situ)
    • Treatment included surgery and chemotherapy
    • No metastasis
    • Normal BMI
    • Non tobacco
    • No other health conditions
    • Regular physician check-ups
    • June was approved for traditional term life insurance at Standard ratings. She pays $32.56/month for 10 years of $250,000 of term life insurance.
  • Tom was diagnosed with breast cancer at 45 years old. He is currently 56 years old. (Men account for approximately 1% of diagnoses.)
    • Diagnosed with Stage 0 (ductile carcinoma in-situ)
    • Treatment included surgery and radiation
    • No metastasis
    • Normal BMI
    • Non tobacco
    • No other health conditions
    • Regular physician check-ups
    • Tom was approved for traditional term life insurance at Standard ratings. He pays $80.04/month for 10 years of $250,000 of term life insurance.
  • Carla was diagnosed with breast cancer at 32 years old. She is currently 35 years old.
    • Diagnosed with Stage II
    • Treatment included surgery, chemotherapy and radiation
    • Minor lymph node involvement
    • No secondary organ involvement
    • Normal BMI
    • Non tobacco
    • No other health conditions
    • Regular physician check-ups
    • Carla was postponed. She may reapply for life insurance 5 years after her last treatment date. In this case, Carla would reapply at age 39 (her treatment ended at 34).  Note – postponements are dependent on the type, stage, and grade of breast cancer. Each carrier has their own postponement guidelines.
  • Vivian was diagnosed with breast cancer at 24 years old. She is currently 32 years old.
    • Diagnosed with Stage III
    • Treatment included surgery, chemotherapy and radiation
    • Major lymph node involvement
    • No secondary organ involvement
    • Currently taking Zoloft for depression
    • Currently undergoing counseling for alcoholism
    • Has not seen physician in 5 years
    • Tobacco user
    • Vivian received a Decline for traditional term life insurance. Even though she is younger than the other life insurance applicants, her tobacco use, history of depression and alcoholism, and lack of following up with her physician prevents life insurance carriers from taking on the risk.

Bottom line: life insurance purchases happen all the time after a breast cancer diagnosis.

Generally speaking, the following are favorable to a life insurance application. Keep in mind, these are not requirements:

  • Regular check-ups with your physician
  • Remission of 10+ years
  • Early stage breast cancer
  • Limited lymph node involvement
  • Successfully completed treatment

One more thing: even if you do not qualify for traditional life insurance, there are other options. For example, our agents can review Graded Benefit or Guaranteed Issue life insurance if your breast cancer was advanced (or you have additional serious health conditions).

Prepare For Your Life Insurance Application

In order to secure the best health class you qualify for, it’s important to be prepared for the application process.

Specific to breast cancer, be prepared to communicate:

  1. Your physicians’ contact information, including names, addresses and telephone numbers.
  2. Your pathology reports (this one is important!), follow-up reports, medical records and treatment records.
  3. Records of regular check-ups with physicians.
  4. List of all medications, dosages, and frequency taken.

How To Apply

Each life insurance carrier has their own underwriting policies. You’ll want to collaborate with an independent life insurance agent who has plenty of experience in finding policies for breast cancer survivors. That way, you’ll receive multiple quotes from multiple life insurance companies to receive the best rate you qualify for. Even if you’ve been declined with one company for breast cancer, it’s possible to be approved with another.

To get started, contact us.

Or, simply fill out our instant quote.

1 Comment
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[…] of breast cancer – Ductal Carcinoma In Situ, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Lobular Carcinoma In Situ, Invasive […]

November 2, 2018 at 2:18 pm
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