If you’re looking for life insurance and are worried about your Gleason Score, you’re in the right place.
We help men with a prostate cancer history find the most affordable life insurance rates every day. This article is centered around Gleason Score and it’s effect on life insurance.
The language of cancer is often confusing and scary. If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, chances are you’ve been bombarded with a multitude of terms that have come to define your struggle.
One of these terms is Gleason Score, which indicates how aggressive your cancer is.
These terms not only define your struggle, but end up defining your family as well, especially to life insurance agents. Men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer know all too well the fear that comes along with their Gleason Score, and the anxiety of knowing that a high score may negatively impact your ability to obtain life insurance coverage.
Fortunately, obtaining life insurance does not have to be a struggle of high premiums and declines. By arming yourself with the knowledge of how these terms will define your life insurance policy, you can take the first steps toward protecting yourself and your family.
What is the Gleason Score?
Invented in 1966 by Dr. Donald Gleason, a pathologist at the University of Minnesota, the Gleason Grading System (Gleason Score) represents one of the most reliable markers showing the potential for cancer to grow and spread.
The Gleason Score helps determine the stage of prostate cancer, it’s predicted prognosis, and which forms of treatment are most viable.
How Does the Gleason Score Work?
After a biopsy, prostate tissue samples are examined under a microscope and given a number on a scale from 2 to 10.
The more normal your cells look, the less chance there is of them spreading, and the lower your Gleason Score will be. A low score ranges between 2 and 4, a moderate score ranges between 5 and 6, and a high score is anything above a 7. Just like in golf, the lower your Gleason Score the better.
Normal cells are closely packed, with small glands and a clearly defined architectural structure. As your grade increases, cells spread out and lose their structure. These abnormal cells are indicators of cancer growth.
How Doctors Determine Your Gleason Score
Complications can arise with your scoring, as low grade cancer cells tend to look similar to healthy cells in the affected organ or gland. This is why the Gleason Score uses the sum of two numbers to come up with your score.
The Gleason Score is comprised of two scores: a Primary and a Secondary. The primary score is taken by looking at the areas where the cancer is the most prominent. The Secondary score is given to the next most conspicuous area of abnormal cells.
Both the Primary and Secondary areas are given a score on a scale from 1 to 5. These two scores are then added up to form your Gleason Score.
Not all Gleason Score totals are the same. The Primary number is reported first, followed by the Secondary number. For example: Adam has a primary score of 4 and a secondary score of 2, and Bob has a primary score of 2 and a secondary score of 4.
This means that Bob’s cancer has not advanced as far as Adam’s, even though they both have a score of 6.
Diagnosis Using the Gleason Score
Symptoms such as blood in the urine or semen, or a delayed or slowed urine stream can indicate the possibility of prostate cancer. Your doctor may also recommend a PSA screening or a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE). If there is a chance of prostate cancer, your doctor may order a biopsy and determine your Gleason Score.
A urologist or a radiologist will take a tissue sample of the affected area using a hollow needle. The tissue sample is then taken in for a pathology report. A pathologist will then examine the chemically-stained tissue for Gleason patterns, and determine the primary, secondary, and Gleason Scores of the tissue.
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I Have Prostate Cancer, What Next?
The good news is that with Digital Rectal Exams and PSA screenings, cancer can be detected early, while your Gleason Score is still low.
Cancer is a serious matter for life insurance companies, who will examine several factors when considering a candidate for coverage. Some of these factors include:
• Stage of the cancer
• Type and Success of treatments
• Date of last treatment
Underwriters will review your medical records, and often you will end up paying higher rates based on your Gleason Score. Frequently those trying to obtain life insurance with prostate cancer find themselves left out in the cold due to a high Gleason Score.
Often patients only know their total score, rather than its breakdown. Be sure to ask your doctor for an explanation of your two scores, as this information can mean the difference between being declined and getting coverage.
Can I Get Life insurance With a High Gleason Score?
Absolutely. We need to weigh in your other prostate cancer details in order to determine the best life insurance rates.
You’re more than your Gleason Score. And many insurance companies are willing to work with people who have been treated for prostate cancer.
We connect you with agents who are knowledgeable about prostate cancer, allowing underwriters and companies to see you for you, not your cancer.
You don’t have to go without life insurance just because you had prostate cancer.
If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you’ve got a difficult journey ahead, filled with challenges. Armed with years of professional insurance experience, we’ll work with you one-on-one to help you and your family find the right coverage.