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Specialist Travel Insurance for Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is by far one of the most common types of cancer in the UK, with over 41,000 people diagnosed each year with the condition according to NHS Choices. If diagnosed at an early enough stage, the chance of recovery is greatly improved.

There are two types of primary lung cancer and these are determined by the type of cells in which the cancer starts.

  • Non-small cell – the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for more than 80% of cases.
  • Small-cell – a less common type of lung cancer that usually spreads faster than non-small-cell.

Lung cancer is rare in people younger than 40 but the rates of lung cancer rise sharply with age, with the majority of new diagnoses between the ages 70-74 years. Although people who have never smoked can develop lung cancer, smoking is the main cause (about 90% of cases). This is because smoking involves regularly inhaling a number of different toxic substances.

Not even cancer should stop you from having your dream holiday or a well-deserved weekend in the sun. However as with any medical condition, if you are planning on travelling abroad then it is important to get the right travel insurance to cover your condition.

Our guide to lung cancer travel insurance

If you have recently been diagnosed with lung cancer you will need to consider many things especially when travelling abroad. Specialist holiday insurance with lung cancer cover should be top of the list. Many standard travel insurance providers may not fully understand the different stages of lung cancer and therefore either decline to cover it or they could impose high excesses in the event of a claim.

However here at Free Spirit we are different as we provide a bespoke medical screening service. We will ask you detailed questions about your condition, the duration and holiday destination, to enable us to offer, in most cases, a tailor made lung cancer travel insurance quote and cover.

Typical questions when declaring lung cancer:

  • Has the tumour spread to the lung from somewhere else?
  • Has the tumour been completely surgically removed?
  • Has the cancer ever spread beyond the affected lung?
  • How long ago was the diagnosis made?
  • If diagnosed more than a year ago, how often have you been seeing a hospital doctor about this?
  • Is there any ongoing radiotherapy or chemotherapy or is any planned?
  • Are you taking strong painkillers every day for this condition?
  • How short of breath do you get when you are walking on the flat?
  • Have you ever been prescribed oxygen other than when you are in hospital?

In some cases it may not be possible to offer a quote online and we may ask you to call us on 0800 170 7704 (we are open Monday – Friday 8am – 6pm, closed Bank Holidays). We have a team of specially trained medical screening operators and they will be able to ask you more detailed questions about your condition to provide you with a quote.

There is no legal requirement to obtain travel insurance, but if you are travelling abroad with a medical condition without insurance you run the risk of having to pay substantial medical costs should you require emergency medical assistance.

Travelling by air with a lung condition

With lung cancer you may suffer from hypoxemia which is low oxygen levels in the blood. This can make flying difficult as the air pressure inside an aircraft cabin is considerably lower than that at ground level, and is similar to being 6000 to 8000 feet up a mountain.

The high altitude causes the oxygen levels in everyone’s blood to drop. Most people will not notice the effects but if you do, you may have a headache and feel nauseous. In an acute hypoxemia, symptoms such as breathlessness cause less-ventilated areas of the lung to contract and to redirect the blood to areas of the lungs which are better ventilated. However, in a chronic state if the lungs are not well ventilated generally, this can result in pulmonary hypertension which can overload the heart and cause heart failure. This gives you an idea of how difficult things can be if you already suffer from low blood oxygen levels and are considering travelling by air for your next holiday.

Depending on your individual condition, it is advisable you speak to your GP or treating consultant prior to planning your trip. If you are cleared to fly but require some assistance for breathing, then airlines may be able to offer additional oxygen facilities. There may be a charge imposed for the use of oxygen on your flight, so contact the airline in advance to get an idea of the cost.

For more details about travelling by plane with a lung condition, visit the British Lung Foundation website.

Medication

When you suffer from a pre-existing medical condition, not only do you have to think about which clothes to take, you also need to ensure you have everything you need while you are away to help manage your condition. Top of this list is usually prescribed medication, so anything you take on a normal day to day basis needs to be taken while you are away.

Inhalers, if needed, should be kept in your hand luggage so you can keep them with you at all times, in case you need them urgently. It is also a good idea to take a copy of your prescription or a note from your GP with any medication you are currently taking. This can help you obtain the medicine you need abroad should you run out or lose yours.

If you have any reservations about travelling with your condition, your GP or consultant should be your first point of call. Not only can they put your mind at ease by offering you a professional opinion on your personal health, they can also point you in the direction of support groups for people suffering from the same condition, for example: The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation

Other help

Depending on the severity of your condition and how much it affects your day to day life, you may require some additional assistance when travelling, especially when at the airport.

All UK airports are required by law to offer assistance to those with reduce mobility, this can be anything from someone helping you with your bags, to hiring a wheelchair or other mobility aids. Further information can be found on the GOV.UK website or on the website of your departing airport.

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Last updated: 15th June 2016.