Navigating Life Insurance After Testicular Cancer
No one wants to hear the word “cancer” uttered to him at the doctor’s office. This scary diagnosis could greatly affect your life, and you just want to know what next step to take. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with words like “nonseminoma” and “spermatocytic,” but once the initial shock wears off, it’s time to get down to business. Beyond your treatment, questions like, “How do I handle these expensive hospital bills?” and “What on earth is going to happen to my life insurance policy?” nervously repeat themselves in your head. You need answers to these questions and more.
In the meantime, find comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. According the American Cancer Society, about 8,720 newly diagnosed cases of testicular cancer will befall the U.S. in 2016, and each of these men has to deal with the weight of their diagnosis and the logistics of things like life insurance.
Fortunately, there are ways you can still find affordable life insurance or avoid a steep increase in rates. In this article we’ll cover the following topics and how they relate to you ability to secure life insurance after a testicular cancer diagnosis.
- tumor markers
- how to test for testicular cancer
- and the different types and stages of cancer
We’ll also cover the types of life insurance policies commonly available to those with testicular cancer, how the testicular cancer diagnosis can affect life insurance rates, and how those without an existing life insurance policy can get approved after diagnosis.
Testicular cancer markers and testing: Ways to test for testicular cancer
One essential preventative measure every man should employ is self-testing, or regularly checking your testes for unusual lumps that could be tumors. Your doctor also performs this check during most physical exams. Once you or your doctor detects a suspicious lump, the following tests can determine if it’s cancerous:
Ultrasound: uses sound waves to form an image of your testes. This helps determine the texture (are they are solid or filled with fluid?) and precise location of the lump (within the scrotum, is it inside or outside of the testicle?).
Blood tests: Often, cancerous tumors secrete a testicular cancer marker, which are elevated levels of specific proteins, providing extra information to specialists through blood tests. Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), beta human chorionic gonadotropin (ß-HCG), and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) are all tumor markers.
A lump accompanied by elevated AFP or HCG usually signifies testicular cancer. If you have an orchiectomy (testicle removal surgery) but later blood tests still reveal elevated levels of these markers, this usually means that the cancer has spread into other lymph nodes or tissues.
Orchiectomy: If the above tests point to cancer, your doctor may recommend that the affected testicle be removed. Once surgery is complete, the testicle is checked for cancer cells.
Testicular cancer types, diagnosis, and prognosis criteria types
There are two primary types of testicular cancer tumors, seminoma and nonseminoma. While rare, it is possible for testicular cancer to involve both types of tumors. Within seminoma, there are two subtypes, classical and spermatocytic. Classical tumors are more likely to affect younger men, between about 30 and 50 years old, while spermatocytic seminomas are slightly less common and typically occur in men aged 55 and older.
Nonseminoma tumors are classified into four primary subtypes: embryonal carcinoma, yolk sac carcinoma, choriocarcinoma, and teratoma. They are most often found in men in their teens to early 40s. Nonseminoma tumors can be more dangerous because they typically grow and spread faster than seminoma tumors.
Stages and Diagnosis
Because some testicular cancer diagnoses are life threatening, obtaining or revising life insurance coverage after diagnosis can be fraught with difficulty. It’s often considered a high-risk underwriting practice for life insurance providers. The cancer stage is one of the factors determining your life insurance rate. The various stages of testicular cancer are:
- Stage I: cancer found only in the testicle(s)
- Stage II: has started to spread to local lymph nodes
- Stage III: has spread to more lymph nodes
- Stage IV: has spread to distant lymph nodes or other tissue, such as bone.
Testicular Cancer Diagnosis Factors Affecting Your Life Insurance Rate
Testicular cancer and life insurance can be a complex subject. Everyone’s situation is different, so the life insurance rate you wind up with is affected by more than just the type and stage of cancer you have. You may have detected the cancer in an early stage and otherwise have a clean bill of health. You may be in remission, or had your last positive test over two or three years ago. Others may be in a more advanced stage, may have relapsed multiple times, or could be undergoing expensive treatments.
This timeframe is one of the most important factors for the insurance underwriters. The best rates are frequently given to men with more than five years of negative cancer test results, while the applications of those with recent positive test results may be rejected.
Beyond which type and stage of cancer you have, life insurance underwriters consider these criteria when determining a rating:
- How long ago you were diagnosed and your age at the time
- Type of treatment (chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, etc.)
- Length of treatment
- The date of your last cancer-positive test results
- Your overall health profile
- Family and personal medical history
- Other pre-existing conditions, (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc.)
- Current medications
- Smoker vs. non-smoker
- Your driving record
There are many life insurance carriers that specialize in covering clients with testicular cancer.
If you’re not yet insured can you get life insurance after testicular cancer? In many cases, the answer is yes. If you didn’t have life insurance before diagnosis, you may still be eligible for traditional life insurance, which requires a thorough medical exam. For example, if you were diagnosed with stage I testicular cancer and received swift, successful treatment, you could easily qualify for what’s called a mild substandard rating. This rating is usually applied to those with one “mild” health condition who are otherwise healthy.
With any later stage of testicular cancer, you may have to wait one to four years after completion of treatment to be rated for life insurance. In these cases, even if you find it difficult to qualify for traditional life insurance, you may be still eligible for a graded death benefit policy. These policies do not require medical exams and include fewer health questions. They provide a quicker turnaround than traditional policies so that you’re approved faster.
Strategies for securing coverage with testicular cancer
One way to ensure the best possible life insurance rating is to take good care of yourself in order to improve your overall health profile. This can greatly improve your rates, even with testicular cancer. Life insurance companies ultimately look at more than just a cancer diagnosis, as evidenced above.
Start by working to end any unhealthy habits, such as smoking or frequent junk food consumption, and replace them with new ones, like meditation and healthy, homemade alternatives to your favorite foods. Get active by starting a new hobby, playing with your family outside more, or even taking just taking a short walk once a day.
Testicular cancer insurance claims don’t have to be confusing. It’s never been easier to get a personalized report based on your unique situation. You can even get a free quote in as little as 60 seconds with Big Lou®. With seamless term life insurance quotes, testicular cancer patients can breathe easy knowing peace of mind is only a click away.