Five cancer care trends based on Vitality PMI claims data

As one of the most common cause of claims, it’s no surprise that cover for cancer continues to be one of the main reasons why clients consider private medical insurance (PMI)

clock • 4 min read
Five cancer care trends based on Vitality PMI claims data

Given its prevalence and the complicated pathways often involved with a cancer, it's important that PMI coverage does not just start and stop at treatment.

On top of access to the latest forms of therapy and surgery, a priority should always be ensuring clients get the best possible end-to-end access to cancer treatment and support - from prevention all the way through to palliative care.

We caught up with Dr Anushka Patchava, deputy chief medical officer for Vitality, to look into some of the key trends and insights gathered from Vitality claims data in 2021.

  1. Cutting-edge treatments are on the rise

When a member is diagnosed with cancer, Vitality's Advanced Cancer Cover provides access to an array of treatments. "This will extend to treatments that include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, as well as biological and hormone therapy and bisphosphonate treatments, plus the latest cutting-edge treatments where clinically appropriate," says Dr Patchava.

According to Vitality PMI claims data between 2019 and 2021, the growth of advanced bisphosphonate (+31%), biological (+29%) and hormone (+20%) treatments outpaced other traditional forms of treatment (+13%)[1] for chemotherapy.

  1. More people are opting to be treated at home

Vitality has seen cancer treatments at home develop and become more prevalent throughout the pandemic to the present day.

"We expect this trend will continue as more people choose the convenience of having care at home by our specialist team of clinically trained, patient-centred professionals and care consultants," Dr Anushka Patchava tells COVER.

According to Vitality's Health Claims Insights Report, the 2021 baseline average of home-based cancer treatments were 40% higher than the 2019 average, with levels remaining higher than the pre-pandemic levels even since the third UK lockdown1.

  1. The complex nature of cancer makes health insurance vital

"Most of us are aware that not all cancers are the same and can vary widely in severity and complexity," explains Dr Patchava. "This is reflected within our claims data from 2021."

Most notably, lung cancers form the most expensive cancer claims - almost three times the average cancer claim, according to the data. Yet these only account for a small proportion of the total number of claims.

Meanwhile, soft tissue and other skin cancer claims are the least expensive to treat - at around a quarter of the average cancer claim - however, they account for a larger proportion of total claims than, say, colon/rectum or bladder/urinary cancer despite costing relatively less per claim1.

  1. One in four cancer claimants under 50

According to Vitality claims data from 2021, cancer claims were made across all ages highlighting the need for PMI among younger clients too. For example, one in four cancer claimants were under 50 last year. Female members had the highest incidence at younger ages, with men being more likely to claim at older ages.

Breast cancer was the main cause of cancer claim in women throughout last year, followed by skin cancer and colon cancer. "The peak in breast cancer claims at age 45 to 55 highlights the importance of not just PMI cover, but how increased awareness and appropriate screening can play a crucial role for our members when it comes to detecting cancer," says Dr Patchava.

Among male members, melanoma, other skin and colon cancers appear more frequently in men under 50. From 50 and above, Vitality claims data from 2021 shows the emergence of prostate cancer as the most dominate form of cancer in men1. 

  1. Higher physical activity levels correlate to better survival rate for cancer

According to Vitality data[2], the likelihood of surviving cancer is significantly increased through engagement with the Vitality Programme, an incentivised rewards programme linked to positive lifestyle choices.

The data suggests that higher physical activity levels, which are encouraged and tracked daily using wearable technology, correlate to improved seven-year mortality rates for those diagnosed with cancer. 

For example, members who were most active in the lead up to a cancer diagnosis had a significantly better rate of survival. Those diagnosed with breast cancer saw their chances improve by up to 49%, while those with prostate cancer had 53% better odds.

"What this helps prove is that by changing member behaviour for the better, we can substantially improve health outcomes for clients," concludes Dr Patchava.

Read the Vitality Health Claims Report 2022 in full here.


Find out more about how Vitality is evolving the healthcare landscape in 2022 with a range of recent proposition enhancements


This post is funded by VitalityHealth

[1] Vitality Health Claims Insights Report 2022

[2] Data from Vitality members in South Africa


More on Adviser / Broking

COVER Healthcare Innovation Awards 2022: All winners revealed!

COVER Healthcare Innovation Awards 2022: All winners revealed!

Watch the full ceremony online

clock 30 June 2022 • 1 min read
PIB Group enters health and wellbeing sector with Balens acquisition

PIB Group enters health and wellbeing sector with Balens acquisition

Specialises in providing cover for the health, wellbeing, fitness, and beauty sectors

Hemma Visavadia
clock 30 June 2022 • 1 min read
CII commences search for industry rising stars

CII commences search for industry rising stars

Applicants will join the New Generation Group

Hemma Visavadia
clock 29 June 2022 • 1 min read


The COVER Review June 2022: Pride, Sandy's Story, Consumer Duty and IP for Gen Z

The COVER Review June 2022: Pride, Sandy's Story, Consumer Duty and IP for Gen Z

Now available for members to watch

John Brazier
clock 23 June 2022 • 1 min read
Protection & Technology: Where do we go from here?

Protection & Technology: Where do we go from here?

"The potential for this technology to revolutionise our industry is huge"

Hemma Visavadia
clock 27 June 2022 • 6 min read
Spotlight: Alzheimer's disease & dementia

Spotlight: Alzheimer's disease & dementia

"The underwriting of Alzheimer's disease is relatively straightforward"

John Downes
clock 24 June 2022 • 5 min read