“I Gotta Guy” With Lymphoma

Recently, we’ve seen a large number of lymphoma questionnaires from agents needing guidance on quoting these cases. As a result of this unusual volume, we’d like to present the following information to assist you in field underwriting clients with these challenges.

Given the advances occurring in medical technology and diagnosis, doctors are increasingly able to pinpoint causes and develop more effective treatments for certain diseases. For example, lymphoma can now be narrowed down into more than 67 subsets of two related cancers that affect the lymphatic system: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The subsets are different in the way they develop, spread and are treated, and therefore can result in dramatically different underwriting outcomes.

According to the Lymphoma Research Foundation, lymphoma is the most common blood cancer and the third most common cancer among children. Lymphomas originate in a subset of white blood cells called lymphocytes. These lymphocytes are an important part of the immune system, helping the body fight infection and attack foreign invaders. Types of lymphoma can be curable if diagnosed and treated early on. In fact, the five-year survival rate of patients with Hodgkin lymphoma treated in stages one and two is 90-95%.

Hodgkin lymphoma (formerly known as Hodgkin’s disease, named after its identifier, British physician Thomas Hodgkin) is less common than non-Hodgkin lymphoma and easier to underwrite. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of the two is often used to treat the disease, and many patients live long, healthy lives following treatment. Risk for Hodgkin lymphoma is increased nearly 25 times with tobacco use, so keep this in mind when working with clients. On the other hand, non-Hodgkin lymphoma (commonly referred to as NHL) is the most common cancer of the lymphocytes, and prevalence of the disease increased nearly 83% from 1973 to 1998. It can be very difficult to get life insurance coverage on a client with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, as the overall five-year survival rate is just 63%.

When underwriting lymphoma, it’s imperative that you identify the stage and type of cancer, any organ involvement and information about medications taken. Your cover letter should describe all treatment in detail, including timeframes, occurrence and radiation doses, and any doctors’ concerns that currently exist. Carriers will work from the date of the last treatment, rather than the date of diagnosis. Keep in mind that if the lymphoma is infiltrating the lymphatic system, the case is less likely to get placed.

When field underwriting complex medical conditions and diseases, consider purchasing a copy of the Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR) or Gray’s Anatomy manual. By familiarizing yourself with terminology, medications and treatment, you can increase the likelihood of being prepared for the carrier underwriting outcome. When in doubt, call your team of Creative Life professionals to minimize any hurdles and simplify the process.


Related terms: Case Studies, Life, Underwriting

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