Do you need ex­tra cover for very early stage can­cer?

A life com­pany is of­fer­ing add-on cover for pre-ma­lig­nant can­cer, say­ing the costs for treat­ing can­cer at this very early stage are just as high as they are for treat­ing the dis­ease when it is more ad­vanced. Laura du Preez re­ports

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPOSTER -

One in six can­cer di­ag­noses are for pre-ma­lig­nant can­cer, data from a lo­cal rein­surer show, yet crit­i­cal ill­ness poli­cies typ­i­cally do not pro­vide ben­e­fits for th­ese di­ag­noses.

Both the rise in the in­ci­dence of can­cer and the grow­ing aware­ness of the need to be screened for the dis­ease have in­creased the num­ber of early di­ag­noses.

How­ever, if you have a crit­i­cal ill­ness pol­icy that cov­ers you for can­cer, you are likely to find that it ex­cludes ben­e­fits for pre-ma­lig­nant, or stage zero, can­cer.

A dread dis­ease or crit­i­cal ill­ness pol­icy is a risk life as­sur­ance pol­icy that, on di­ag­no­sis of one of a num­ber of spec­i­fied ill­nesses, in­clud­ing can­cer, pays you out a lump sum that you can use as you wish.

You can use the pay­out to cover med­i­cal ex­penses not cov­ered by your med­i­cal scheme, al­though most as­sur­ers ar­gue that the cover is in­tended to pay for life­style changes that re­sult from your ill­ness. For ex­am­ple, you may need re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion or some­one to care for your chil­dren, or you may de­cide to fol­low a less-am­bi­tious, and low­er­pay­ing, ca­reer path.

Al­trisk claims it is the first life as­sur­ance com­pany to mar­ket an add-on ben­e­fit for its ex­ist­ing crit­i­cal ill­ness poli­cies that of­fers a pay­out for stage zero can­cer.

Al­trisk says the costs you may face for stage zero can­cer are sig­nif­i­cant, but other as­sur­ers are not con­vinced of the need for this ben­e­fit.

Al­trisk says rein­sur­ance data show that a 30-year-old woman is al­most six times more likely to have stage zero can­cer than a can­cer that is clas­si­fied ac­cord­ing to its sever­ity as stage one, two, three or four.

Rein­sur­ance statis­tics also show that among 60-year-old men with can­cer, 50 per­cent of prostate can­cers are clas­si­fied as be­ing at a stage at which it is too early for them to be cov­ered by the typ­i­cal crit­i­cal ill­ness pol­icy.

In stage zero, the can­cer cells are lo­calised and have not in­vaded the sur­round­ing tis­sue. A di­ag­no­sis may also be re­ferred to as in-situ.

Thanks to de­vel­op­ments in the treat­ment of can­cer and, in par­tic­u­lar, the rapid growth of bi­o­log­ics ( medicines cre­ated through a bi­o­log­i­cal process), sur­vival rates

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