When you think about fall colors, what do you think of? Orange? Red? Maybe yellow?
How about pink? If you did say pink, you aren’t alone. People are seeing pink all over the place — after all, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And rightly so; breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women, no matter what age, race or ethnicity.
In our industry, our underwriters encounter breast cancer
all the time. In fact, about 1 in 8 U.S. women (that's just under 12 percent!) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2013, an estimated 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in women in the United States, along with 64,640 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. About 39,620 women in the U.S. were expected to die in 2013 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989 — with larger decreases in women under 50.
A woman’s risk of breast cancer approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. About 15 percent of women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it. About 85 percent of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations. The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender (female) and age (risks increase with age).1
The great news is that due to heightened awareness, early detection campaigns and significant advances in medical treatment, the mortality rate from breast cancer has been steadily declining — and the life insurance industry has adapted. It used to be that a cancer survivor
had to wait 10 years or more from their last treatment to be considered eligible for most life insurance coverage. However, that’s not the case anymore. Depending upon the severity of the disease and treatment details, many carriers have drastically shortened postponement times, and some have even eliminated them altogether, instead relying on flat extras to compensate.
However, many cancer survivors might not be aware of their options when it comes to obtaining life insurance
. And that’s where you come in. The next time a client mentions that she is a breast cancer survivor, ask the following general questions.
- What type of breast cancer did you have?
- What was your age at the time of diagnosis?
- Do you know the stage and grade of your cancer?
- Was there any lymph node involvement, or did the cancer metastasize?
- What type of treatment or surgery did you go through, and when was your last treatment?
- Were there any additional complications?
Together, we can help provide the well-deserved coverage to the courageous women who have survived breast cancer. This October, we honor the tremendous strides that have been made in this fight.