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Report Produced: 03/26/2023 08:47 AM

Report Question ID Question (Descending) Discussion Answer

Date of diagnosis/Ambiguous terminology--Cervix Uteri: Is the date of diagnosis of a cervical pap smear done in December 2017, that states high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion with features suspicious for invasion, followed by a cervical biopsy in 2018 positive for squamous cell carcinoma, in 2017? Is the ambiguous term used in the cytology in 2017 (suspicious for invasion) to determine diagnosis as the SEER manual states to use the ambiguous cytology as the date of diagnosis if confirmed later.

Based on the information provided, this is a 2018 diagnosis. SEER has been asked to postpone implementing the instruction about using the date of the ambiguous cytology until 2019 or later. We will be removing that instruction from the draft 2018 SEER manual when it is finalized.


Date of diagnosis--Diagnostic confirmation: How are the diagnosis date and diagnostic confirmation coded when the pathology (needle biopsy followed by resection) reports GIST, NOS and the physician subsequently states this is a malignant GIST and treats the patient for a malignancy? See Discussion.

Pathologists rarely diagnose a GIST as a malignant tumor. Per the AJCC, GISTs encompass a continuum in terms of biologic potential, with larger more mitotically active tumors landing on the "histologically sarcomatous" or malignant end of the spectrum. Because the pathologists generally do not categorize these tumors as benign or malignant, the judgement is typically made by the clinician in light of all the clinical and pathologic findings. Unless there are obvious distant metastases, the clinician usually decides whether a GIST is malignant and treats the patient as such.

In the case above, the patient underwent a gastric biopsy on 04/10/2014 that showed GIST. The subsequent resection on 04/12/2014 showed a 4.5 cm GIST, spindle cell type with 6 mitoses/5 square mm. The resection pathology report does not indicate the GIST is malignant, but does identify a large tumor with mitotic activity. After reviewing the evidence in this case, the clinician calls this a malignant GIST on 04/29/2014 and starts the patient on Gleevec.

Although neither the biopsy nor the resection call this a malignant tumor, should the date the GIST was first diagnosed (biopsy on 04/10/2014) be used to code the diagnosis date, since this is the date the tumor (ultimately felt to be malignant) was diagnosed? If the diagnosis date is coded as the date malignant GIST was first mentioned (04/29/2014), this would exclude surgery as treatment for this tumor.

Would this be a histologic diagnosis because the tumor was histologically confirmed to be GIST? Or must this be a clinical diagnosis because the diagnosis of malignancy was only made clinically (by the clinician's review of the clinical and pathologic findings)?

Code the diagnosis date for this case as 04/10/2014. Code the diagnostic confirmation as histologically confirmed. The clinician is using all of the information available to determine the diagnosis, including the biopsy and resection.


Date of Diagnosis--Colon: If a patient has a positive Cologuard test, is the date of diagnosis the date of the cologuard test or the date of the biopsy?

Do not use the date of a positive Cologuard test as the date of diagnosis.


Date of Diagnosis--Brain and CNS: How is the Date of Diagnosis coded when an MRI clinically diagnoses a borderline brain tumor on 4/4/2020, but the subsequent biopsy pathologically diagnoses a malignant brain tumor on 5/20/2020? See Discussion.

Clinically, the patient was felt to have a pineocytoma (borderline tumor) on imaging, but the subsequent biopsy proved a pineal germinoma (malignant tumor). The Date of Diagnosis instructions state to code the month, day and year the tumor was first diagnosed, clinically or microscopically, by a recognized medical practitioner, but it does not indicate whether differences in behavior alter the diagnosis date.

For brain and central nervous system tumors, should the diagnosis date be the first date a tumor is SEER reportable? Or should the diagnosis date for those tumors ultimately proven to be malignant, be the date the malignancy was diagnosed?

This tumor was first diagnosed on 4/4/2020 according to the information provided. The pineocytoma was reportable based on a behavior of /1; it was later confirmed as a pineal germinoma; update both the histology and behavior on the abstract as better information was obtained, retaining the original date of diagnosis.


Date of Conclusive Terminology: Is there an applicable timeframe when coding this field?

There is no strict timeframe for Date of Conclusive Terminology. The diagnosis using conclusive terminology could be made any time following the diagnostic work-up.

The date of conclusive terminology is related to code 2 [ambiguous term followed by conclusive term] in the data item "Ambiguous terminology." Assign code 2 when a conclusive diagnosis is made 60 days or more after a diagnosis using ambiguous terminology. Record the date of the conclusive diagnosis in "Date of Conclusive Terminology."


Chemotherapy: Should radiosensitizing chemotherapy agents (i.e., drugs typically coded as treatment for cancer) be coded as treatment when they are given in combination with radiation therapy with the intention of enhancing that treatment? See discussion.

Per our consultant, these drugs are given at a lower dose than that typically given to treat cancer patients.

Do not code radiosensitizers and radioprotectants as cancer-directed therapy. Drugs typically classified as chemotherapy agents would be "ancillary drugs" for the purpose of coding cancer-directed therapy because the drugs are given at a much lower dosage than that typically given to treat cancer patients. Per Book 8, ancillary drugs are not to be coded as cancer-directed therapy. Radiosensitizers and radioprotectants do not work directly on the cancer and are not coded under any of the systemic therapy fields.


Chemotherapy/Neoadjuvant treatment: Should neoadjuvant chemotherapy be coded for an incidental second primary discovered at the time of surgery? If so, how is the diagnosis date coded? See Discussion.

The patient had neoadjuvant chemotherapy for rectal carcinoma. An AP resection revealed an incidental second primary intramucosal carcinoma in adenomatous polyp in the descending colon. Is the chemotherapy coded as therapy for the intramucosal carcinoma of the descending colon?

Record the neoadjuvant therapy only for the first primary and do not record the neoadjuvant therapy for the incidental new primary found on surgery. 


Casefinding--Heme & Lymphoid Neoplasms: Is the 2010 casefinding code of 289.6 (Familial Polycythemia) addressed anywhere in the Hematopoietic Database? See Discussion.

When you enter "familial polycythemia" into the Heme DM, polycythemia vera (PV) appears; however, the term "familial polycythemia" is not listed as one of the synonyms for PV.

Familial polycythemia by itself is not reportable. This is a benign condition which occurs within families. Familial polycythemia can progress to polycythemia vera (9950/3), which would then be reportable. The code, 289.6, which is the ICD-9-CM code for Familial polycythemia is not included on the reportable list for casefinding. There is only one ICD-9-CM code for Polycythemia vera, 238.4. "Familial polycythemia" is listed in Appendix F: Non-Reportable List for Hematopoietic Diseases.


CS Tumor Size: Is a measured "area" equivalent to a tumor, mass or lesion size? See Discussion.

Collaborative Stage manual, page 26

Rule 4a: "always code size of the primary tumor, not size of the polyp, ulcer, cyst or distant metastasis."

Rule 4e: Additional rule for breast primaries: Example: Duct carcinoma in situ covering a 1.9 cm area with focal areas of invasive ductal carcinoma. Record the tumor size as 1.9 cm.

This answer was provided in the context of CSv1 coding guidelines. The response may not be used after your registry database has been converted to CSv2.In general, a measured area is not equivalent to a tumor size.

Do not apply the rule related to the breast example to other primary sites. This example in the CS manual pertains to coding tumor size for breast primaries when the size of the invasive component is not stated. In the example, the area involved with duct carcinoma in situ is the only measurement available. The size of the invasive component was not given.


CS Tumor Size: Can an 'ulcerated mass' be used to code CS tumor size? See Discussion.

The CS Manual (p. 26, 4.a.) states do not code the size of the polyp, ulcer or cyst. However it states that a 'cystic mass' can be used to code TS if it is the only size given. Scopes Text: 'ulcerated' mass based at anal verge & ext 3-4 cm up into rectum.

This answer was provided in the context of CSv1 coding guidelines. The response may not be used after your registry database has been converted to CSv2.Do not code CS Tumor size using the size of an ulcerated mass.

Answer from:

  • I & R System

  • American College of Surgeons