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How Prostate Cancer Affects Life Insurance Premiums

I Have Prostate Cancer. Now What?

Cancer is always a serious concern to life insurance companies. After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer for men. Approximately one out of every ten men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. When life underwriters assess an individual with prostate cancer they will look at the stage and grade of the cancer, what type of treatment is being used to treat the cancer, the success of the treatment, and how long it has been since the last treatment. If you have prostate cancer and are applying for life insurance, please allow plenty of time for the underwriter to review your medical records. You should also be aware that you will likely have to pay higher rates for your life policy than you would without the cancer. 

Prostate Cancer's Effect on Insurance Rates

As with any cancer, the severity of prostate cancer is measured using stage (size and spread of tumor) and grade (how aggressive the tumor is). Grade also accounts for how differentiated the cancer cells are. The cancer cells can either be well differentiated, meaning they are similar to the non-cancerous cells or poorly differentiated, meaning they are very different from non-cancerous cells. Poorly differentiated cancer is the more dangerous of the two extremes and thus receives the higher grade. Prostate cancer that is grade I or II is not very aggressive. A cancer with grades III and IV is more aggressive and more poorly differentiated.

Prostate cancer can also be rated using a Gleason score which varies between a score of 1 and 10. A Gleason score of 6 or less corresponds to grades I and II while Gleason scores of 7 or above correspond to grades of III and higher. The best scenarios are those where the cancer is detected early, the cancer is small, grows slowly, and has cells that are very similar to non-cancerous cells. These types of cancer have the best survival/cure rates and are classified using low grades and stages. As such, they also receive the best ratings. 

One other aspect to take into consideration is what type of treatment was used to combat your prostate cancer. Common treatments are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and castration. From a life underwriter's perspective, surgical removal is the desirable form of treatment since the others usually indicate that the cancer spread beyond the prostate. If you had a low grade/stage cancer removed via surgery, you can often receive a life insurance policy right away. But if chemotherapy or the other methods of treatment were involved, you will typically be postponed  for two to three years. 

The table below is a rough guideline of what kind of rates you can expect to receive if you had prostate cancer. It assumes, though, that you had a low grade cancer that was successfully treated with complete surgical removal and for which there was no indication of spread. High grade cancers (grades III and IV, Gleason score 7 or above) are rated one stage higher. So, for example, a Stage A2 cancer with a higher grade would receive the ratings for a Stage B1-B2 cancer. Note that slow growing prostate cancer in older men can sometimes be rated as a chronic disease with ratings of Table 2 through Table 6. 



Expected Rating


Cancer is present in one area of prostate only

Standard through Table 2


Cancer is present in multiple areas of prostate

Either Standard with flat extras of $5-$7 per $1000 for 7 years OR Table 4


Tumor confined to prostate detected by exam

Postpone 1 to 3 years; then Standard with flat extras  of $10 per $1000 for five years


Cancer has spread beyond prostate

Postpone 5 years; then Standard with flat extras of $15 per $1000

C2, D+

Cancer has spread to lymph nodes or beyond


More Information on Prostate Cancer

10% of men who have prostate cancer die from it. The main risk factor for prostate cancer is age. About 10% of men in their fifties have prostate cancer, 40% of men in their seventies have this condition, 70% of men in their eighties have this cancer, and nearly every man in his nineties is assumed to have prostate cancer. 

Prostate cancer is usually first detected via a digital rectum exam or a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. As a result of the reliability of PSA testing, the rate of detection of prostate cancer has been steadily rising. This test is a routine part of any life insurance medical exam for men. 

Important Things to Know for Those with Prostate Cancer

What are some of the issues that interest underwriters?

  • When was your cancer diagnosed?

  • Did it spread to other parts of your body? Were your lymph nodes involved?

  • What was the grade and stage of your cancer?

  • What was your PSA before treatment?

  • What kind of treatment did you receive? 

What can I do to help the underwriting process?

Prostate cancer is a tricky condition to evaluate. The life insurance company will need to review all your medical records and medical history. Please include the contact information for all your treating physicians and for the medical centers where you visited. Also, if possible, include a copy of your pathology report.

Complete the following form, or call us toll-free at 888-854-7526 if you would like to speak with someone or get more information.

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