While it is true that the environment and our changing lifestyle today have made us more susceptible to Cancer, the tremendous improvement in the survival rates and quality of life post-recovery, cannot be ignored. However, good quality medical care and post-operative care is expensive and not accessible to all. Improved awareness, regular checkups and Cancer Insurance are therefore imperative today.
In this blog, we discuss the most common cancer types, their corresponding symptoms and the importance of cancer insurance.
Some common types of cancer –
Cancer that develops in the tissues of the oral cavity ie. from the lips, backwards till the front part of the tonsils is called oral cancer. The exact cause of oral cancer is uncertain, but various lifestyle factors can put you at risk. These include tobacco of any kind, heavy consumption of alcohol, age and eating habits. Those above the age of 40 are at a higher risk of contracting oral cancer. A diet lacking in fruits and vegetables also makes one more vulnerable. India has about 30% of oral cancer cases worldwide. Treatment during the initial stages includes surgery to remove the cancerous cells. Radiation, Chemotherapy and Targeted drug therapy are the other treatment options available. Following are the symptoms:
- a sore on your lip or mouth that is not healing
- a lump anywhere in your mouth or neck
- bleeding from your mouth
- difficulty or pain in swallowing
- an earache that has been there for some time
- white, red and white, or red patches in or around your mouth/lips
This type of cancer occurs in the cells of the cervix – the lower ending of the uterus that connects into the vagina. The cancerous cells grow unusually large and penetrate other tissues and organs of the body – lungs, liver, bladder, vagina and rectum. Varying strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, contribute to causing cervical cancer. One can reduce the risk of contracting this cancer by having regular screening tests and receiving a vaccine that protects against the HPV infection. Treatment options include Chemotherapy, Radiation, Surgery and Targeted Drugs Therapy. Symptoms include –
- bleeding from the vagina after intercourse, between periods or after menopause
- watery, bloody vaginal discharge that could be heavy and possess an unpleasant smell
- pain in the pelvis or pain during intercourse
Also known as stomach cancer this is the growth of cancer carrying cells within the lining of the stomach. While stomach cancer is a relatively rare type of cancer, there are a few risk factors to be aware of. These include eating a lot of salty or processed food, eating too much meat, a history of alcohol abuse, lack of exercise and inappropriate storing or cooking of food. Medical diseases and conditions like lymphoma, H. pylori bacterial infections, and stomach polyps can increase your chances of contracting this type of cancer. Treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and immunotherapy. Following are the symptoms :
- nausea and vomiting
- frequent heartburn
- loss of appetite, sometimes along with the loss of weight
- constant bloating
- feeling full after eating very little
- bloody stools
- stomach pain, which increases after meals
The most common cancer type, it is reported to claim approximately 1.6 million lives worldwide, every year. One reason for this is that it’s symptoms, viz. incessant coughing, fatigue, infections and breathing difficulties, are usually ignored making early detection difficult. Smoking and tobacco consumption are the most common causes of this type of Cancer. Proposed treatment options are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, radio-surgery, immunotherapy, palliative care and targeted drug therapy. Following are a few other symptoms:
- pain in your bones
- swelling of neck, arms and face
- feeling weak/Numb
- lumps in the collarbone or neck
The second most common cancer, this one affects the breast tissue of both men and women. If not treated in time, the tumour is an aid to spread aggressively to other body tissues. Hereditary factors contribute to the risk but only in a very small percentage. Improved awareness and good quality care have reduced fatalities significantly. Regular mammograms ensure timely detection of this Cancer, especially if you have a family history. Treatment options include breast removal surgery (mastectomy), lymph node removal, prosthesis, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Following are a few symptoms:
- lump in the breast
- change in the shape or size of the breast
- change in nipples or discharge
- rashes around nipples
Also known as Blood Cancer, this one affects the bone marrow and blood cells. The bad/ immature cells affect the healthy cells which lead to increased risk, fatigue and reduced immunity. Depending on age and health, treatment options vary but the conventional options are chemotherapy, biological therapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy and stem cells transplant. A few symptoms are:
- easy or recurring bleeding
- swollen lymph nodes and ribs
- unexplained weight loss and increase in blood count (white cells)
- recurring Infections
In this case, the cancer tissue starts to form in the kidney, especially in the inner lining – the renal cell carcinoma and renal pelvis carcinoma. The former occurs in the small tubes of the kidney whereas the latter occurs in the centre of the kidney. This particular cancer usually affects people over the age of 40. Depending on the stage of cancer, treatment options include medicines, surgery, cryoablation, radiofrequency ablation, targeted therapy. The common symptoms of kidney cancer are:
- blood in the urine
- sensing a lump in the lower back
- loss of weight and appetitec
- chronic Fever
The most common cancer to affect men, especially over the age of 50, this affects tissues inside the Prostate Gland. The prostate gland is a part of the male reproductive system. Heredity reportedly increases the risk of this cancer. Depending on the complexity of the cancer cells, treatment options include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgery and hormone therapy. Some identifiable symptoms are:
- difficulty in urinating
- inability to control urine
- blood in urine/sperm
- erectile dysfunction
- unexplained weightless
Bladder Cancer, Melanoma (a type of skin cancer) and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma are a few other common cancer types but they are not as frequently heard of like the ones mentioned above.
The objective here is to educate people of the most commonly diagnosed cancers and the signs to watch out for. However, this list is not exhaustive. Many have been diagnosed with some very rare forms of Cancer that have been successfully treated. It is important to understand that awareness is the best way to prevent Cancer, and with this list, we hope to initiate that process.
Need for Cancer Insurance?
Cancer impacts both physical and financial health. Loss of Income, Cost of treatment, Cost of postoperative care are a few financial consequences of Cancer. One cannot comprehend the emotional upheaval it causes and poor financial conditions/ planning only add to that. Typically, Cancer treatment could start at Rs 2.5 lakh for six months of treatment, with some of the lowest priced generic drugs in the world, and could go up to as much to as Rs 20 lakh, with novel drugs and targeted medicines. Cost of diagnostics (CT Scans, PET Scans, MRIs, biopsy) is high and treatment costs are out of reach for many if it is detected late.
In addition to treatment cost, out of pocket expenses are known to skyrocket due to travel, hospital stays, and other expenses.
One of the ways to prepare for this is to buy a cancer insurance plan that will mitigate some of the financial risks.
Benefits of cancer insurance apart from those mentioned above:
- Low premiums for a larger sum assured
- Tax benefits
- Policy entry age is 18 to 65 years with a maturity age of 75 years
- Lump sum or monthly income benefits taking care of the loss of income
- Option for 25% payout during early detection and 100% payout during critical stage detection
Things to keep in mind for buying cancer insurance:
- Inclusions and Exclusions
- Waiting period i.e the time taken for the policy to take effect after applying for the policy
- Payout options during different stages
- Don’t let a lower premium influence your decision. Understand that cancer care is expensive and opt for a plan that offers a sizeable sum assured
- Policy Term
Shriram Life Comprehensive Cancer Care Plan
The Shriram Life Comprehensive Cancer care plan has the following features –
- Easy and convenient process to avail comprehensive cancer cover
- Two Benefit options to choose from
- Fixed Benefit on the diagnosis of Cancer:
- Initial Stage: 25% of the sum assured on diagnosis of an Initial stage of the cancer
- Critical Stage: 100% of Sum Assured (less payments made if any for Initial stage cancer) on the diagnosis of Critical Stage of Cancer.
- In addition, a monthly income benefit of 2% of the sum assured from the date of critical stage cancer for a period of 5 years if Option 2 is chosen
- Tax benefits towards the premium you pay as per extant tax laws
Please note that this does not replace your regular health or life insurance. The most prudent financial plan would be to buy a good cancer insurance, invest in a ULIP or Endowment plan to take care of the out of pocket expenses and top that with a pure life insurance plan with an add-on of health cover. This will provide you with holistic protection and security.
Reduce Cancer Risk
There is no certain way to avoid cancer but you can definitely reduce the risk. Following are a few ways to steer clear of Cancer:
- Stay away from tobacco and reduce alcohol consumption: Research has shown that smoking causes lung cancer while those who chew tobacco are at a major risk for oral cancer. Alcohol consumption should also be limited.
- Reduce your weight and stay healthy: Risk of cancer is known to go up with obesity.
- Exercise regularly: Regular exercise will prepare your body to fight against anything that should come its way. Cancer is a lifestyle disease and staying active will help reduce your risk.
- Eat healthy: A well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables will help take care of nutrition requirements and reduce your risk.
- Protect your skin: The sun’s UV rays are harmful and can cause skin cancer. Make sure you use a sunscreen when you are stepping out for prolonged periods in the sun.
- Know yourself, your family history, and your risks.
- Get regular check-ups and cancer screening tests.
Cancer does not spare anyone but the willingness to fight back is what helps us pull through. Most Cancer Institutes and Oncologists claim that the mental and emotional state of the patient and the family have a big role to play in defeating cancer. With early detection, good quality care and advanced treatment options most cancer types can be controlled. A good Cancer Insurance will cover the associated costs. Don’t wait until it is too late; buy a Cancer Insurance Plan today for a less stressful tomorrow.