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Cancer Screenings, Covid & Life Insurance

During December, it may seem as though your to-do list is never ending. With so much to fit in around Christmas and New Year, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed, especially with everything still not feeling as ‘back to normal’ as we may have hoped.

Over the past two years, we’ve had to make a lot of decisions to prioritise what feels ‘important’ at the time. Whether that be seeing family when we can, socialising with friends to make up for lost time, or putting in extra hours at work to catch up after a rough few months professionally or financially.

Because of these priorities, we often decide that routine medical appointments don’t seem urgent, and can be pushed to the bottom of our to-do lists.

Latest reports show that just 70.2% of eligible women had a smear test last year, as cervical cancer screening rates dropped to the lowest they’ve been in a decade during the pandemic.

The worrying drop could lead to more cancer patients which could have been prevented. Just 3 million of the 4.59 million 25-64 year olds eligible for a cervical screening were checked, which is a 5.3% drop on the previous year.

An NHS Digital report states 4.6million women were sent a letter asking them to book a screening appointment.

Cervical cancer most commonly affects sexually-active women aged between 30 and 45. In the UK, the NHS Cervical Screening Programme invites women aged 25 to 49 for a smear every three years, those aged 50 to 64 every five years, and women over 65 if they have not been screened since 50 or have previously had abnormal results. Women must be registered with a GP to be invited for a test.

What is a cervical screening?

Cervical screenings are intended to detect abnormalities within the cervix that could, if undetected and untreated, develop into cervical cancer. Abnormalities are ranked in grades, which determines what treatment is needed.

Also known as a smear test, the test checks the health of your cervix, which is the opening to your womb. During the screening appointment, a small sample of cells will be taken from your cervix.

The sample is checked for certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause changes to the cells of your cervix. These are called “high risk” types of HPV.

If these types of HPV are not found, you do not need any further tests.

During HPV testing, the sample is then checked for any changes in the cells of your cervix. These can then be treated before they get a chance to turn into cervical cancer. Removing these cells can prevent cervical cancer.

You’ll get your results by letter, usually in about 2 weeks. It will explain what happens next. Most test results come back clear, however, one in 20 women show abnormal changes to the cells of their cervix.

Screenings and Covid

NHS Digital have said that covid-related disruption is ‘likely’ to have led to the drop in women coming forward for their screenings, and Samantha Dixon, chief executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said the drop is ‘not unexpected’ due to the pandemic.

Medics have warned that cases of all types of cancer have gone undetected. The National Audit Office has showed up to 60,000 people across England who were expected to start cancer treatment from March 2020 to September 2021 failed to do so.

Prioritising your appointments

If your appointment has not been cancelled due to the pandemic, it is so important to attend. You will usually be in and out quickly and efficiently and it’s a painless procedure, just a little uncomfortable.

Here are some tips to attend your cervical screening, or any cancer screening, and prioritise the important things in life:

1) Prepare and relax

Preparation is key when it comes to appointments of this nature. Get there in good time so you don’t feel stressed as you walk into the room, and allow yourself a little time afterwards so that you’re not rushing off to the next meeting or chore. Remember that waiting times might be slightly longer than usual at your GP surgery, so account for a little longer than usual sat in the waiting room.

Remember your mask, phone and a book to read whilst you wait so that you’re relaxed and calm ahead of your screening.

2) Prioritise yourself on your to-do lists

When your to-do lists are overwhelming, make sure that the things on there for you and your health come first. Usually, they’re little things like a medical screening or check up at the dentist or opticians, but they’re the most important in the long run.

Make sure you set aside time to attend them, to try and avoid any bigger issues down the line.

3) Ask for help if you need it

If your to-do list is getting out of control, and your family can help by picking up some of the slack, make sure you ask for help.

At this time of year, hours can be spent wrapping presents and picking up orders. Why not get the kids to decorate paper gift bags so you can pop family gifts in them? It’s a fun activity for them, and will be appreciated by their grandparents and aunts and uncles way more than a beautifully wrapped gift with ribbons and bows, that’s taken you hours to sort!

Those spare hours can be used on something a lot more important.

4) Pull your appointment forward if you’re concerned

If you have anything that you are concerned about that could be the first signs of cancer, make sure that you book to see a nurse or your GP as soon as you can. Catching cancer early is so important and can help ensure that it does not develop into a bigger issue. If you’re struggling to get through to your GP during the covid pandemic, do not give up.

5) Choose your time wisely

If you have the option of when to go to an appointment, try and choose first thing in the morning or one of the last appointments of the day. That way, there shouldn’t be a backlog of appointments and you should get seen pretty quickly. Although probably convenient on your lunch hour, try to avoid midday when it’s a busier time.

6) Treat yourself afterwards

If it’s an appointment that you’re nervous for, treat yourself for going so that you have something to look forward to! Whether that be a movie night at home, or a meal out, or even just picking up a takeaway on the way home to enjoy as a family.

Little things like that will make you look forward to getting it done and getting home for a treat.

7) Remember your friends and family won’t mind

If you have plans with friends or family, but have an appointment scheduled at the same time, they will not mind if you postpone or reschedule! Some things are important not to miss and you can always rearrange them afterwards. A cervical screening shouldn’t take long, so you can even just push your plans back by half an hour to account for it.

8) The nurses have seen it all before

Whether you have an appointment for a cervical screening, prostate cancer exam or mammogram, remember the nurses have seen it all before. Lots of us, especially those who are having a screening for the first time, are worried about their appointment because it means taking off your clothing for it to happen.

Nurses have done it hundreds, if not thousands, of times before and really do not care! Don’t worry about preparing because it does not matter.

Cancer and Life Insurance

The Insurance Surgery is one of the leading experts in securing Life Insurance cover for those with pre-existing medical conditions, including those who have recovered from Cancer.

There are over 200 types of Cancer and an estimated 2.5 million people are diagnosed with the disease in the UK.

If you have had cancer and are looking for cancer life insurance, we can help. There are different types of life insurance to choose from and we can help you decide what is best for you and your family.

There are a number of key areas that are taken into account when underwriting Cancer Life Insurance:

– Type of Cancer
– Area / Organs Affected
– Grade and Stage
– Treatment received (i.e. Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy etc.)
– Date you were diagnosed with cancer
– Date of the last treatment for cancer
– Time in remission
– Medical History

Life insurance premiums can vary from one insurance provider to another, and it all depends on how good they are with the type of cancer you have had. If you have had cancer, you are seen as being a higher risk than ‘normal’ or have an increased risk in being poorly down the line.

This is why the type of cover you need may result in higher premiums, or why you may have been declined elsewhere.

Most insurers view cancer life insurance underwriting in terms of when primary treatment ended, which is usually 2 years. We can look at the life insurance quotes that you are offered, and help you make the right decision for your circumstances.

Life insurance underwriters will usually require some key information, mainly about the cancer you have had and how you were treated. This information includes:

– Grade
– Stage
– Type of Cancer
– Location of Cancer
– Treatment (e.g. Radiotherapy, Chemotherapy, Mastectomy or Lumpectomy)
– Time from end of treatment
– Any current reviews/treatment

Cancer is the most common medical condition in the UK and the most common cause of death. It’s a major issue for insurance underwriters, especially with more people being cured and longer life expectancies.

Life insurance pays out when you pass away, so it is also worth thinking about what you’d like the money to go to if you were to die. You may want to pay off your mortgage, or leave a lump sum for your children. It could even be used to pay off debts such as credit cards and gives you the peace of mind you need that your family will be looked after. If you have a figure in mind, we can help get as close to that as possible.

Screenings & Life Insurance in 2022

As we enter 2022, it is worth booking your cancer screenings as soon as you possibly can, to ensure any signs are found and dealt with as soon as they possibly can.

If you have had cancer and you are looking for life insurance, make one of your New Year’s resolutions to get life insurance in place for you and your family.

We can help you find a premium that you are happy with and covers all of your needs. We take you through the full process and our advisors are experts in their field, so you’re in safe hands. You can start the process with our online application form, here.

Happy New Year from everyone at The Insurance Surgery, and we hope to speak to you in 2022.