Simple Steps to Protect your Body and your Bank Balance

Dr Kerissa Naidoo, Chief Medical Officer at Old Mutual

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Female breast cancer has overtaken lung cancer to become the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world. With an estimated 2.3 million new cases and 685,000 deaths recorded in 2020 by the World Health Organisation, it accounts for one in four cancers worldwide and one in six cancer deaths. 

Old Mutual’s 2020 Claims Statistics reveal that breast cancer is among the most prominent of its cancer claims, making up 25% of all cancer claims within the illness insurance category. 

While women between the ages of 40- and 60-years old account for over two thirds of breast cancer claims in this category, Dr Kerissa Naidoo, Chief Medical Officer at Old Mutual warns that breast cancer is not just a disease for mature women. Latest figures show that 2% of breast cancer claims were from males and confirm the youngest (female) claimant in 2020 at just 30 years old.  

“The good news is that many types of breast cancer are treatable and survivable when diagnosed early,” continues Naidoo. “This is why Breast Cancer Awareness Month serves as an invaluable reminder that you are never too young – or too old – to start proactively protecting yourself physically and financially against the possibility of developing a debilitating illness such as cancer.” 

Naidoo recommends following three simple steps that apply to different phases of the breast cancer journey, namely prevention, early detection and survival.  

1.     Complete regular self-checks

From aged 20, monthly breast self-examinations are a quick and easy way to help you understand what ‘normal’ feels like for your own body. This should make it easier for you to recognise any new lumps, bumps or changes soon after they arise. You can learn how to do a breast self-examination by watching this video from the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA). 

2.     Book an annual screening 

It is recommended that women aged 40 and over go for an annual screening mammogram, where an x-ray is used to detect any abnormalities in the breasts that are not yet noticeable by touch. If you have a history of breast cancer in the family or any other concerns, this screening can be done at an earlier age. 

3.     Get insured against severe illness 

While early breast cancer detection may improve your chances of survival, Naidoo says there are many physical and financial implications for those living with and being treated for cancer that need to be considered, which is why illness insurance can play a vital role. 

“Should you be diagnosed with breast cancer, our Illness insurance can help to lighten the load, by paying out a single tax-free amount to assist with things like traveling between treatment centres, rehabilitation, living expenses such as food, bills or school fees, or even alternative treatment.” With pay-outs ranging from R100,000 to R6 million (depends on individual underwriting), the exact percentage depends on the severity of the cancer.  

“Illness insurance from Old Mutual also has a built-in Cancer Enhancer which pays 25% of the cover amount if cancer severely impacts your quality of life leaving you unable to care of yourself.”

Our Illness insurance is modular too, as you only choose and pay for the benefits you need and can afford. 

What’s more, in the unfortunate event of cancer returning, Old Mutual will pay up to 50% of the cover amount, even after the full cover amount has already been paid, if you have the Returning Illness Benefit added to your cover at an extra cost. 

“Enduring an illness such as breast cancer typically puts your health – and life – on hold – as you fight to recover. Illness insurance is an essential tool that gives you greater peace of mind by enabling you to focus your full attention on getting better, without the additional financial worries of everyday life” says Naidoo.  

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