Getting life insurance after throat cancer for Gen Xers like me (people in their mid to late 30’s, 40’s and early 50’s born between 1965 and 1984) is dependent on the stage of throat cancer you were diagnosed with and the success of your treatment.
If you have ever seen on TV the poor woman, Terrie Hall, who recently passed away in this anti-smoking commercial, you know exactly what throat cancer looks like and sounds like. We’re accustomed to seeing people who have lost their hair because of chemo—but we are not accustomed to seeing people with a visible hole in their neck having to speak out of a voice box as a result of throat cancer. The sound coming from the voice box is raspy and harsh to the ears and is definitely not the natural voice of the survivor. Furthermore, throat cancer survivors have swallowing problems so they have to “gulp” often to clear the mucus from the airways and esophagus. If you are talking with and listening to a throat cancer survivor, you’ll notice they have to stop frequently to gulp. This pregnant pause is undoubtedly frustrating to them.
If there ever was a sure fire reason to never start smoking or to stop smoking immediately, please watch this anti-smoking commercial from Terrie Hall.
It is sad to say the least.
What is throat cancer, and how is throat cancer treated?
According the the Mayo Clinic, “throat cancer refers to cancerous tumors that develop in your throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), or tonsils.”
Throat cancer is primarily caused by smoking tobacco and by drinking too much alcohol; however, throat cancer can also be caused by HPV and gastro reflux disease.
The symptoms of throat cancer include the following:
- “A cough
- Changes in your voice, such as hoarseness or not speaking clearly
- Difficulty swallowing
- Ear pain
- A lump or sore that doesn’t heal
- A sore throat
- Weight loss” (credits here)
If you have any of these symptoms and have ruled out other potential causes, please see a doctor immediately.
If you have been diagnosed with throat cancer by a doctor, here are the treatment options available to you:
- surgery (surgery to remove the voice box called laryngectomy; surgery to remove part of the throat called pharyngectomy; and neck dissection surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes).
Survival rates for throat cancer are dependent upon the stage in which the cancer was diagnosed. Stage I and II survival rates are around 80%; later stages of throat cancer have a survival rate less than 50%.
The best cure for throat cancer is preventative—1) don’t every smoke, but if you do, stop as soon as possible, and 2) moderate your consumption of alcohol.
So, what do life insurance companies consider when evaluating the life insurance application of someone with throat cancer?
- INITIAL THROAT CANCER DIAGNOSIS—life insurance companies will want to know when you were first diagnosed with throat cancer.
- TYPE OF THROAT CANCER—life insurance companies will want to know the type of throat cancer you had. There are primarily two types of throat cancer: Pharyngeal cancer and Laryngeal cancer.
- STAGES OF THROAT CANCER—There are five stages of Throat Cancer: “Stage 0: The tumor has not invaded tissue beyond your throat. Stage 1: The tumor is less than 7 cm and limited to your throat. Stage 2: The tumor is slightly larger than 7 cm, but still limited to your throat. Stage 3: The tumor has grown and spread to nearby tissues and organs. Stage 4: The tumor has spread to your lymph or distant organs.” (credits here). The stage of throat cancer you had is important to life insurance companies when examining your insurability and deciding upon your final life insurance rate. At the Stage 0 and Stage 1 levels, you will be eligible for a traditional life insurance policy although it will be table-rated (an additional fee will be added to your policy). At the Stage 2, Stage 3, and Stage 4 levels, your best bet for life insurance will be a guaranteed issue life insurance policy. For more information on what a guaranteed issue life insurance policy is, read this article.
- METHOD OF TREATMENT—Life insurance companies will want to know what method of treatment you received for the throat cancer. The three primary types of treatment for throat cancer are the following: surgery (laryngectomy, pharyngectomy, and neck dissection surgery), radiation, and chemotherapy.
- END OF TREATMENT—life insurance companies will want to know when the treatment for your throat cancer ended to evaluate your life insurance application.
- MEDICATION–Life Insurance companies will want to know what medication you took during your battle with throat cancer and what medication you are currently taking.
- HEALTH AFTER CANCER–Life Insurance companies will want to know what your health is like now that you no longer have throat cancer. Life insurance companies will be able to evaluate your current health two ways: by examining your medical records and through your medical exam which will be a prerequisite for your life insurance policy.
Short story: When I was in my early 20’s and just getting out of college, I had a job interview with a marketing company. The man who interviewed me not only had undergone throat cancer, not only talked through a voice box, but smoked cigarettes through the hole in his neck. After the interview was over, I watched the man from my car about to leave the parking lot inhale a cigarette and exhale it through his voice box. That’s addiction for you.
All in all, getting life insurance after throat cancer is possible—your insurability and your final life insurance rate is going to be determined by the stage of throat cancer you had, your treatment for throat cancer, and your current health.
If you would like to discuss your life insurance needs, call me at (615) 525-6165, email me at email@example.com, message me through Linkedin.com, or contact me here.
I hope this has been a helpful article on life insurance after throat cancer.
Until next time and until next life insurance article,
Term Life Insurance Agent for Generation X