World Cancer Day – 4th February 2021

World Cancer Day – 4th February 2021 Thumbnail

Posted 3rd February 2021 by

Thursday 4th February is World Cancer Day.

2021 marks the 21st World Cancer Day led by the Union of International Cancer Control (UICC).

The UICC aims to raise awareness, improve education and catalyse personal, collective and government action in order to prevent more cancer deaths. They also seek to ensure cancer care and treatment is equal to all.

As a personal protection brokerage, we wanted to help increase awareness of Critical Illness Cover and explain how the devastating illnesses brought on by cancer could be covered by our insurers.

What does all the jargon surrounding cancer actually mean?

Most people are sadly all too aware of the term ‘cancer’. We all know what the illness fundamentally is, but there are many terms used to describe the size and spread of cancer that you may not be as familiar with.

Below is an example of a Critical Illness Cancer definition taken from Legal & General’s policy documentation as of 03/02/2021:

“Any malignant tumour positively diagnosed with histological confirmation and characterised by the uncontrolled growth of malignant cells and invasion of tissue. The term malignant tumour includes leukaemia, sarcoma, pseudomyxoma peritonei, merkel cell cancer and lymphoma except cutaneous lymphoma (lymphoma confined to the skin).

For the above definition, the following are not covered: · All cancers which are histologically classified as any of the following: – pre-malignant; – non-invasive; – cancer in situ; – having either borderline malignancy; or – having low malignant potential. · All tumours of the prostate unless histologically classified as having a Gleason score of 7 or above or having progressed to at least clinical TNM classification T2bN0M0. · Malignant melanoma unless it has been histologically classified as having caused invasion beyond the epidermis (outer layer of skin). · Any other skin cancer (including cutaneous lymphoma) unless it has been histologically classified as having caused invasion in the lymph glands or spread to distant organs.”

Cancer grading and staging

The staging of a cancer describes the size and how far a cancer has already spread in the body. Pathologists will typically measure the staging of cancer using a Gleason score. The pathologist looks for the 2 most predominant patterns in the cells and then adds the two scores together. They then group the scores into Grades. The table below helps to explain what these grades mean:

Gleason scoreGrade GroupWhat it means
Gleason score 6 (or 3 + 3 = 6)Grade Group 1The cells look similar to normal prostate cells. The cancer is likely to grow very slowly, if at all
Gleason score 7 (or 3 + 4 = 7)Grade Group 2Most cells still look similar to normal prostate cells. The cancer is likely to grow slowly
Gleason score 7 (or 4 + 3 = 7)Grade Group 3The cells look less like normal prostate cells. The cancer is likely to grow at a moderate rate
Gleason score 8 (or 4 + 4 = 8)Grade Group 4Some cells look abnormal. The cancer might grow quickly or at a moderate rate
Gleason score 9 or 10 (or 4 + 5 = 9, 5 + 4 = 9 or 5 + 5 = 10)Grade Group 5The cells look very abnormal. The cancer is likely to grow quickly

Reference: Cancer Research UK

What is ‘pre-cancer’?

Pre-cancerous conditions are not cancers. This diagnosis occurs when the cells appear abnormal when they are looked at under a microscope, but are more likely to progress into a cancer than normal cells would.

They give many names to these conditions, although they share similar meanings. Listed below are some of the more generic exclusions typically given by insurers:

  • Cancer in situ
  • Pre-malignant
  • Borderline malignancy
  • Low malignant potential

A cancer in situ, for example, is often classified as ‘Stage 0’. The cells have not invaded surrounding tissue and are therefore only found in the place where they first formed.

What are the most common cancers in the UK?

Some types of cancer are far more well-known than others. The latest statistics from Public Health England show us the three most common cancers in the UK are:

  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Lung cancer

The chart below from Public Heath England shows the latest (2017) publicly available cancer registrations:

Cancer Research UK shows that 38% of cancer cases in the UK in 2015 were preventable; poor diet, a lack of regular exercise and smoking being the biggest contributing factors. World Cancer Day gives us all an opportunity to reflect on our own lifestyle and any changes we may wish to make.

Does critical illness insurance really pay out for cancer?

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI):

  • Cancer is the biggest single reason for an individual critical illness claim, with musculoskeletal issues being the biggest reason for individual income protection, followed by mental health
  • 91.6% of critical illness claims were paid out in 2019 totalling £ 1,215,957,000. That’s an average of £  67,573.28 per claim
  • Cancer is the most common cause of claims for critical illness cover

It’s clear to see that critical illness insurance pays out to many UK families, many of whom will be claiming for cancer.

At Protect Line we hope that World Cancer Day will help to further raise awareness and continue to inspire action.

World Cancer Day’s website put’s it perfectly:

“Never underestimate the power of cooperation and collective action to save lives. Who are you and what will you do on 4 Feb? Speak up, stand up and take action together this #WorldCancerDay #IAmAndIWill”


Critical illness plans may not cover all definitions of a critical illness. The definitions vary between product providers and will be described in the Key Features and Policy Document if you go ahead with a plan.

Chris Reed

Senior Financial Service & Marketing Leader | Experienced in Sales Leadership, Business Development and Digital Marketing Lead Generation | Passion for progressing business using technology.

I have worked for Protect Line since 2011 in many different positions. I have a passion for protection and I love helping ensure as a business we talk in plain English.

In my opinion, financial protection should be a part of our schools curriculum. Currently it's down to the private sector to help provide unbiased factual information.

My aim is to help share the benefits of using a non-advised brokerage to secure financial protection for your family.