Malignant melanoma – are you protected?

Protection Infographic

Infographic prepared by AIG Life

Perhaps you know already that our skin is the largest organ in the body, covering an average of 2 square metres and accounting for around 10% of our body weight. Its thickness varies from 0.5mm on our eyelids to 4mm or more on the palms of our hands and the soles of our feet.

It’s more likely you’ll be aware that the incidence of skin cancer has risen sharply since the 1970s. Rates of malignant melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, have increased at a faster rate than any of the ten most common cancers in Great Britain. Over 13,300 people were diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2011, which equates to 37 people a day.1

We all enjoy the longer, sunnier days of summer, although we might be forgiven for wondering where they went in August this year! Sunshine boosts our mood and increases the production of vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones and teeth. But too much sunshine, especially without proper protection from harmful UV rays, can be deadly.

In common with most cancers, skin cancer is more common among older people: almost a quarter of those diagnosed with late stage malignant melanoma between 2009 and 2011 were aged 75 and over. But that doesn’t mean that younger people are safe. Malignant melanoma is the second most common cancer in 15-34 year olds2.

Some of the increase in skin cancer statistics may be due to increased detection and diagnosis; people are more aware of the dangers than ever before. However, experts link most of the increase to changes in sun-related behaviour such as more regular trips abroad (‘Generation Easyjet’), lack of care while on holiday (either wearing inadequate clothing or too little suncream or both) and the increased use of sunbeds throughout the year to maintain a ‘healthy’ skin colour.

Survival rates, however, are encouraging: over 90% of people who develop malignant melanoma can now expect to survive for 10 or more years.3

But what are the financial costs of surviving cancer?
Macmillan states that around one in four people will face ill health or disability following treatment for cancer. Here at Marchwood IFA, we normally recommend allowing for a year’s salary to help get through the treatment, after-care and recovery. Don’t rely on state benefits to support you if you become critically ill with cancer – they are probably less than you think.

The key questions to answer are:

1. Do you have a year’s savings to tide you over if you were seriously ill?
2. Do you have a good employee benefits package to cover a year off work due to sickness?

If the answer is no to both of these questions, you might want to consider a critical illness insurance policy.

The money you get from such insurance can be used to pay off a mortgage, to pay medical bills, home modifications or for anything else you need. Many serious illnesses are covered, but not all, so it is important to consult an expert about the type of policy you need.

A number of life assurance companies have now extended the cancer definition in their critical illness cover to include certain types of skin cancer. For example AIG Life accepts applicants with a history of melanoma, at standard rates for life cover, with no need for a GP report provided that:

• the melanoma was diagnosed over the age of 30;
• it never spread to the lymph nodes or any other body part;
• the only treatment was surgery, and this took place over 10 years ago; and
• the applicant is in complete remission and has had no reviews or follow ups in the last two years.

Next Steps
It pays to consult a specialist protection insurance adviser like Marchwood IFA. We can’t protect your skin but we can protect your life. If you’d like to talk through your current protection needs, please contact us on 01243 532635

1, 2 and 3: Cancer Research UK