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As a financial and retirement planner, I often tell my clients, “The good news is medical science has made it possible for all of us to live much longer. The bad news is medical science has made it possible for all of us to live much longer.” What I mean is, if we live longer, we have to pay for all this extra time in retirement without a paycheck. Fortunately, there is a lot more we can do with retirement and financial planning these days to maintain and potentially elevate your lifestyle in retirement. But even with all these medical advances and financial tools, sometimes our health may not cooperate, and our lives are sometimes cut short. This could be the result of an accident or a number of unforeseen, chronic diseases, like cancer. For early detection and treatment of cancer, however, science may have just found the “canary in the coal mine.”


The Protein Biomarker

Recent research suggests that proteins in the blood could provide a warning of cancer more than seven years before a diagnosis. Scientists at the University of Oxford examined blood samples from over 44,000 individuals in the UK Biobank, including more than 4,900 who were later diagnosed with cancer. This study, funded by Cancer Research UK and published in Nature Communications, compared the blood proteins of those who developed cancer with those who did not.

The researchers identified 618 proteins linked to 19 different types of cancer, such as colon, lung, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and liver cancer. Of these proteins, 107 were associated with cancers diagnosed more than seven years after the blood sample collection, while 182 proteins were linked to cancers diagnosed within three years.


The Earlier The Better

Dr. Keren Papier, a senior nutritional epidemiologist at Oxford Population Health and joint first author of the study, emphasized the importance of understanding the early stages of cancer and the role of blood proteins in predicting cancer risk. The study’s findings could be a road map for new early detection methods and treatment options.


A New Understanding of Cancer Prevention

Experts like Mark Lawler from Queen’s University Belfast and Lawrence Young from the University of Warwick highlighted the significance of these findings. They pointed out that early detection of cancer could significantly improve treatment success rates and potentially lead to the prevention of cancer before it occurs. Now that is good news!


Not There Yet

Even though this research is very promising, more research is needed, and it will still take time to develop the clinical applications and treatment methods. That being said, if you have received a cancer diagnosis or just want to be prepared, there are important emotional and financial considerations to be aware of.


Financial Impacts of Cancer

Cancer treatment can be very expensive, even with health insurance. For many cancer survivors, the financial impact of diagnosis and treatment can be long-lasting. Here are some common financial challenges faced by cancer survivors:

  • Uncovered Treatment Costs

Expenses not covered by insurance and other out-of-pocket payments can lead to significant debt that persists long after treatment ends.

  • Loss of Employment Benefits

Survivors who can no longer work may lose employer-provided health, disability, and life insurance benefits.

  • Job Market Challenges

Finding a new job that offers health, disability, and life insurance benefits can be difficult.

  • Insurance Limitations

Some insurers may not cover treatments considered experimental, such as those in clinical trials.

  • Additional Treatment Expenses

Receiving treatment away from home can incur extra costs for travel, lodging, meals, and other living expenses.


Options to Ease Financial Issues for Cancer Survivors

  • Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Explore these programs for potential insurance coverage options that might better meet your needs.

  • Income Alternatives

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Check if you qualify for these programs to provide financial support if you’re unable to work.

  • Life Insurance

Policy Loans and Accelerated Death Benefits: Your life insurance policy could be a source of cash through loans or pre-death payments.

  • Policy Retention

Keep your insurance policy if you leave your job to maintain coverage.

  • Selling Your Policy

Consider selling your life insurance policy for a portion of its value to access immediate funds.

  • Retirement Plans

Accessing Retirement Funds: Your employee pension or retirement savings plan may offer options for cash or disability income. Review your employee benefits to see if you can access these funds, especially under hardship provisions if you are still employed.


Emotional Support

A cancer diagnosis can be terrifying. If you’re in this position, It’s important to take advantage the medical, emotional and financial support that is likely available to you. The American Cancer Society would be a good place to start:


Tremblay Financial Services, financial advisors in Santa Barbara CA, uses a process we call TRIAD to help protect as well as grow your assets. You can reach Tremblay Financial Services by calling 805.569.1982.