Life Insurance for Someone with Breast Cancer

Breast CancerBreast Cancer and Life Insurance

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States. It is estimated that 41,000 US women will die this year because of breast cancer. The more invasive the cancer the worse the mortality prognosis.


It was not that long ago that life insurance companies would not offer anything except ‘guaranteed issue’ plans. Cancer survivors prognosis for long term has improved over time. Consequently, insurers are more likely today to make offers for life insurance.

Learn more from the Mayo Clinic


What do the life insurance companies want to know about the breast cancer?

In order to provide offers, underwriters want to know:

  • The date of diagnosis
  • the type of treatment such as lumpectomy, mastectomy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, etc.
  • the stage and grade of the cancer
  • when treatment was completed

The pathology report: the stage and grade of breast cancer

Insurers won’t even make a tentative offer with out the stage and grade of the cancer.

The diagnosis of breast cancer is made by biopsy.  A pathologists will view the biopsy to determine the staging.  The staging system of the American Joint Committee on Cancer Staging uses TNM (tumor, node, metastasis) classification. The pathologist will evaluate the tumors by size, involvement of other tissues, status node, and presence or absence of distant metastasis. It also will note about hormone receptors. There is evidence to suggest that is the cancer is positive for hormone receptors it may respond more favorably to certain therapies.

Non-invasive cancer (in-situ) has a better prognosis than invasive tumors. Tumor size is an independent prognostic factor. Each involved node worsens the prognosis. Ultimately, the staging will help determine the prognosis, which will help the oncologist to direct therapies.

In general, the lower the stage and the longer it has been since the last treatment the better the life insurance offer will be. Many insurers will postpone some of these cases for up to fifteen years. However, as outcomes improve with new therapies the offers will get better. Additionally, life companies can differ widely on how they view some cases. That is why it is best to ‘shop’ the market for the best offer by submitting some basic information about the case to several underwriters for tentative offers.

What will life insurance rates look like for breast cancer survivors?

As mentioned earlier is is very much tied to the stage and grade of the cancer. For example: stage 3 & 4 can expect to be postponed for 15 years before an offer will be made. However, a Stage 0 (in situ), low grade, and estrogen receptor positive can expect to receive standard rates.

annual rates for female standard nonsmoker $250,000

Female Age10 year level term20 year level termlifetime universal life

If all else fails, a cancer survivor can usually purchase a ‘guaranteed issue’ plan. These plans offer limited death benefits the first few years.