Critical Illness  

How is cancer covered in critical illness plans?

  • Identify which cancers affect men and women the most
  • Explain how insurers cover stage one to four cancer
  • Explain how insurers cover pre-cancerous conditions
How is cancer covered in critical illness plans?
Credit: Ivan Samkov/Pexels

Thursday 4 February marked the 21st World Cancer Day: an initiative which aims to raise awareness, improve education and prompt action to prevent more cancer deaths and ensure that treatment and care is equal to all.

To help raise awareness, Protection Guru asked its panel of independent medical practitioners to explain the various types of cancer in more detail, and explore how they are covered in critical illness plans. 

Staging, malignance, metastasis and pre-cancerous

While most people will be familiar with the term cancer and generally understand what the condition is, there are many ways of describing the size and spread of the cancer.

Many of these are used in critical illness definitions and as such, it is useful for advisers to understand each term. Protection Guru’s doctors explain these below:

“A cancer is where cells in the body become abnormal and start to multiply and spread out of control. A cancer is malignant when it is able to spread and invade nearby healthy tissue. Metastasis is where the cancer cells break away from where they originated and spread to other parts of body in the blood or lymph. 

“The staging of a cancer describes the size and how far a cancer has spread in the body. This is commonly given a label from one to four, with four being the most severe stage.”

Most common cancers in the UK 

Most of us will have known someone that has suffered from cancer, with some cancers more common than others.

Cancer Research UK states that 38 per cent of cancer cases in the UK in 2015 were caused by preventable lifestyle factors, with poor diet, a lack of regular exercise and smoking cited as being the biggest contributors.

The type of cancer someone is likely to suffer from will depend on several factors including their age and gender. Below, our doctors look at what types of cancer are more common for males and females:  

“In the UK the most common cancers seen in males in 2017 were prostate, lung and bowel. Cancer rates also change dependent on age."

Below are the top three cancers among adult men per age group in the UK, between 2015-2017:

Type of cancer by age groupPercentage of total cases
1 Testicular14
2. Melanoma (skin)11
3. Bowel11
1 Prostate30
2. Lung13
3. Bowel12
1 Prostate24
2. Lung16
3. Bowel14

“In women, breast cancer continues to top the list, with incidence rates starting to climb at an early age."

Below are the top three cancers diagnosed in the UK among adult women per age group between 2015-2017:

Type of cancer by age groupPercentage of total cases
1 Breast44
2. Skin9
3. Cervix8
1 Breast34
2. Lung13
3. Bowel9
1 Breast21
2. Bowel14
3. Lung16

How do critical illness plans cover stage one to four cancer? 

All critical illness plans offer excellent coverage for Stage one to four cancer, as our doctors explain:

“All insurers generally share a very similar overall definition for cancer and there is little difference to the likelihood of having a successful claim with all covering Stage one to four. 

“There are, however, some provisos in the main cancer wordings. Firstly, as blood cancers (such as leukemia) are not solid tumours, they would fall outside of how cancers conventionally spread. Therefore, they are specifically listed within the wordings to highlight that a payment would be received if they were to develop.