The pancreas aids in digestion. It's an elongated, tapered gland that secretes digestive enzymes and hormones (including insulin) into the ducts that lead to the intestine. Pancreatitis is characterized by inflammation and necrosis of pancreatic tissues. It may be either acute or chronic.
Acute pancreatitis is often caused by alcohol abuse or gallstones (in about 80% of cases). It typically occurs in discrete episodes or attacks, followed by recovery. Acute attacks can cause severe damage to the pancreas. Most episodes of acute pancreatitis are survived and the pancreas gland returns to its normal state. Acute pancreatitis can recur, however, and if the recurrences are frequent, will typically lead to chronic pancreatitis.
Chronic pancreatitis is usually the result of obstruction to the drainage of pancreatic enzymes via the pancreatic ducts into the intestines. It's caused by persistent inflammation of the pancreas. The common causes are cystic fibrosis (in children) and alcohol abuse (in adults). Other potential causes include hemochromatosis, hyperlipidemia, or a tumor obstructing the pancreatic duct. In chronic pancreatitis, the pancreas is irreversibly damaged and a process known as fibrosis (or scarring) leads to a gradual deterioration of the pancreatic function. This destruction leads to malnutrition, and often to diabetes mellitus, due to the lack of insulin production.
There is no specific treatment for pancreatitis, but identification and removal of the cause is the cornerstone of addressing the issue. Surgical treatment may take the form of restoring normal pancreatic function or correction of an associated biliary tract disorder. However, in advanced stages of the disease, damage to the pancreas is often too great, reducing the effectiveness of any operative procedure.
Life Insurance Underwriting for Pancreatitis
Here are the primary questions to be asked of a proposed insured who presents with a history of pancreatitis:
- Is it acute or chronic?
- When was it first diagnosed?...and is there a known cause?
- How many episodes have they had?...and how long have they been in recovery?
- Current alcohol use/frequency?
- Are there any complications?
- Has there been any surgery done?
Underwriting decisions can range from Standard (possible Preferred in rare circumstances) to moderately rated to a decline in severe cases. You should obtain as much detail as possible from your proposed insured to allow us to quote as accurately as possible. Our Pancreatitis questionnaire will help you gather the necessary information.Download the Questionnaire
As always, we're here to help you answer questions, and provide the best underwriting services possible to help you place cases.
Click here to contact our underwriter, Mike Woods, with specific underwriting questions about pancreatitis.