Back to Search Results

Report Produced: 03/26/2023 09:07 AM

Report Question ID (Ascending) Question Discussion Answer

First Course Treatment/Immunotherapy--Other Therapy:  Should IMC-A12 (Cixutumumab) be coded as Immunotherapy/Biological Response Modifier (BRM) treatment?  See Discussion.

IMC-A12 (Cixutumumab) is listed as a BRM agent in SEER*Rx, but the Remarks section indicates it should be coded as Other Therapy until there is FDA approval. It is unclear if FDA approval was ever given for this agent. We are mainly seeing it given for prostate primaries.

Code Cixutumumab as Other Therapy.  Cixutumumab is still in clinical trials and not approved by FDA yet. Though it is classified as an immunotherapy agent, it is not approved.


Solid Tumor Rules/Multiple Primaries--Head and Neck:  Is a patient with 2020 neck mass, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), p16-negative, who then had a biopsy of the right tonsil (C09.9) in July 2022, SCC p16-positive, one or two primaries? Is this coded to 8070/3 using pre-2022 rules or a new, second primary p16-positive, 8085/3.  See Discussion.

History provided by the oncologist

Right neck mass since 2019; 04/07/20, initial biopsy p16-negative SCC, delay of treatment due to patient preference, agreed to biopsy of tonsil and work-up August 2022; right tonsil biopsy: p16-positive, G2 SCC, nodal mass at that time >6 cm with extensive extranodal extension, Stage III (cT2, cN3, cM0, p16-positive); based on this history, was staged as a tonsil primary and p16-positive.

Patient details

1. March 2020, CT neck and chest revealed a 0.5 x 2.7 x 2.3 cm low-density necrotic nodal mass at right neck level 2 suspicious for metastatic disease.  There was a slight asymmetric increased size of the right palatine tonsil.  There are a few sub-4 mm pulmonary nodules which are nonspecific.

2.  April 7, 2020, FNA of right neck mass with pathology revealed p16-negative SCC   

3.  April 20, 2020, PET/CT revealed 3 x 2 cm right-sided level 2 node with FDG avidity  

4.  May 5, 2020, flexible laryngoscopy showed no obvious primary lesion   

5.  May 2020, after evaluation by a medical oncology, patient declined any treatment  

6.  June 17, 2022, return visit in medical oncology after PET/CT demonstrates significant progression in the neck; patient definitively declines chemo, but would like surgical opinion.  Now has more rapidly progressive disease with skin breakdown and weeping from malignant lesion right neck.  

7.  June 22, 2022, radiation oncology consultation   

8.  July 15, 2022, tonsil biopsy: Invasive squamous cell carcinoma, moderately differentiated with LVI, p16-positive  

9.  Patient now agreeing to treatment with radiation: Tooth extractions 8/30/2022, radiation planning 9/14/2022  

10.  Patient consulted with cancer specialist who explained surgery is not recommended given level of extranodal extension and risk of seventh cranial nerve paralysis and fistula formation with surgical excision and who recommended chemoradiation

11.  September 9, 2022, patient presented for radiation CT simulation/treatment planning and informs treatment team. Patient declined/refuses concurrent chemotherapy despite recommendations from two cancer institutions.

Abstract a single primary of the tonsil. The diagnosis date is April 7, 2020. Assign 8070/3 for the histology.

Metastases were found in 2020 before the primary of tonsil was determined in 2022. The oncologist information confirms this.


First Course Treatment/Immunotherapy--Other Therapy:  Should all therapies given as part of a clinical trial be coded as Other Therapy (NAACCR #1420), or only those that cannot be classified in one of the other treatment categories (systemic therapy, surgery, radiation) or as ancillary treatments?  Does it matter what is listed in SEER*Rx under Primary Sites or Remarks regarding FDA approvals?  See Discussion.

The SEER Manual states that the Other Therapy data item identifies treatments given that cannot be classified as surgery, radiation, systemic therapy, or ancillary treatment; and the instructions for code 2, Other-Experimental, say to assign this for any experimental or newly developed treatment, such as a clinical trial, that differs greatly from proven types of cancer therapy.  Does this mean that only unclassifiable treatments should be coded in Other Therapy, even if given as part of a clinical trial? 

For example, if a patient is given a drug as part of a trial that is categorized in SEER*Rx as immunotherapy, should it be assigned both Immunotherapy (NAACCR #1410) code 1 and Other Therapy code 2, or only coded in Immunotherapy since it is classified as such?  How should a clinical trial drug be coded if it has a treatment classification in SEER*Rx, but the type of cancer being treated is not listed under the Primary Site or Remarks sections as being FDA approved?  A real case scenario is atezolizumab given for colon cancer as part of a trial; this drug's category is Immunotherapy in SEER*Rx but colon is not listed under Primary Sites or in the Remarks detailing FDA approvals.

When a drug is being administered as part of a clinical trial and it is not yet approved as treatment for the cancer site for which it is being administered, code in Other Therapy. Do not code it as Immunotherapy (for the example provided).

While a drug may be approved to treat one type of malignancy, it may be in clinical trials to determine its value in treating other malignancies. Coding as immunotherapy is misinformation in this case since there are other types of approved immunotheraputic agents.


Solid Tumor Rules/Multiple Primaries--Lung:  How many cases should be abstracted for a patient with 2022 wedge biopsy of right upper lobe acinar predominant lung adenocarcinoma and wedge biopsy of right lower lobe lepidic predominant adenocarcinoma if there is concern for diffuse spread throughout the lungs secondary to the lymphangitic carcinomatosis and possible diffuse pneumonic type of adenocarcinoma? See Discussion.

Acinar predominant adenocarcinoma measures at least 12 mm and involves wedge biopsy margins, while the lepidic predominant adenocarcinoma measures 11 mm and does not involve the margins of that separate specimen. Pathologist also notes, “CT findings of diffuse coarse reticular nodular opacity, these findings may represent pneumonic type adenocarcinoma/diffuse pulmonary involvement or intrapulmonary metastasis.  Both of these scenarios have the corresponding stages of pT4 (if thought to be ipsilateral) or M1a (if thought to also involve the contralateral lobe).”

Patient declined any further treatment and transitioned to hospice before expiring less than 1 month after wedge biopsies.

It is unclear if Rule M6 would apply to these two specimens with different subtypes since this scenario is not specifically addressed in the M rule definitions.

Abstract two separate primaries when separate/non-contiguous tumors are two or more different subtypes/variants in Column 3 of Table 3 using Rule M6 in the Solid Tumor Rules (September 2021 Update).  They represent two subtypes/variants of the same NOS histology.  When coding histology, tissue from pathology takes precedence over imaging, including when stated as differential diagnoses based on the CT scan, as noted by the pathologist in this example.


Solid Tumor Rules/Multiple Primaries--Lung: How many primaries should be reported when two separate squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) tumors, one in the left upper lobe (LUL) and one in the right lower lobe (RLL), are diagnosed? The tumors are separated by an interval occurring right hilar lymph node biopsy proving metastatic pulmonary adenocarcinoma without a clear description of a corresponding interval occurring lung tumor. See Discussion.

The patient was diagnosed with a biopsy-proven 12/2020 LUL SCC treated with radiation only, followed by a right hilar lymph node biopsy in 07/2022, that proved “metastatic pulmonary adenocarcinoma” per pathology and treated with radiation, followed by a biopsy-proven 12/2022 RLL SCC to be treated with immunotherapy only. The imaging never definitively identified a lung tumor that can be assumed to be a primary adenocarcinoma tumor.  In 06/2022, a PET scan only described a “strongly PET positive Rt inferior hilar LN vs infrahilar pulmonary mass,” as well as the subsequently biopsy-proven SCC in the RLL (12/2022 SCC primary). The biopsy path indicates this was a right hilar lymph node metastasis and does not indicate this is an infrahilar pulmonary mass. No other PET positive pulmonary lesions were seen at the time.

The oncologist’s assessment indicates the right hilar node was the only positive finding on the biopsy, and it was unclear if this right hilar node metastasis was from the left lung or if the primary was “not detectable.” The oncologist summarized this as a LUL lung lesion radiated for SCC, a right hilar lesion radiated for adenocarcinoma, and a RLL lung lesion on pathology found to be SCC.

Should the interval occurring metastatic adenocarcinoma be accessioned as a separate lung, NOS primary based on the histology difference? While the Solid Tumor Rules do not apply to metastasis, the oncologist did treat these three malignancies separately and does not indicate the hilar lymph node metastasis was felt to be from either SCC primary.

Abstract three primaries based on this scenario.

1 – 2020, SCC LUL lung

2 – 2022, Adenocarcinoma lung, described as metastatic pulmonary, based on biopsy of right hilar node (Rule M8)

3 – 2022, SCC RLL lung (Rule M11)


First Course Therapy/Surgery of Primary Site--Prostate:  What is the correct surgical code for irreversible electroporation ablation of the prostate diagnosed in 2021?

Assign code 17 for irreversible electroporation ablation of the prostate when there is no tissue submitted to pathology for a 2021 or 2022 case.

Assign code A170 for a 2023 case.


SEER Manual/Reportability--Ambiguous Terminology:  Please clarify the reportability and relevant date ranges of the following ambiguous terminology: almost certainly, most certainly, and malignant until proven otherwise.  See Discussion.

SINQ 20180104 indicates, in the absence of further info, the terms “almost certainly” and “until proven otherwise” are NOT reportable. There is no date range provided for this answer.

SINQ 20200027 indicates, in the absence of further info, the term “most certainly” IS reportable. There is no date range provided for this answer.

SEER Program Coding and Staging Manual 2022 indicates, in the absence of further info, the terms “until proven otherwise” and “most certainly” ARE reportable.

Essentially, we are hoping for an update of SINQ 20180104 due to 2022 reportability change. Clarification to the equivalence of “almost certainly” and “most certainly” would also be helpful.

Use the ambiguous terminology list as a guide in the absence of additional information after reviewing all available information and consulting the physician who diagnosed and/or staged the tumor. 

Equivalent to "Diagnostic for" malignancy or reportable diagnosis

  • most certainly carcinoma
  • malignant until proven otherwise

Not Equivalent to "Diagnostic for" malignancy or reportable diagnosis

  • almost certainly ("almost" conveys uncertainty in comparison to "most" as in "most certainly")

We will update SINQ 20180104.


SEER Manual/Laterality--Kaposi Sarcoma:  If both arms are involved with Kaposi sarcoma and no other sites, how is laterality coded?  See Discussion.

Per Solid Tumor Manual Other Sites Rule M6, despite the number of areas of involvement, any presentation of Kaposi sarcoma is always a single primary. The primary site is skin using the Kaposi Sarcoma for All Sites Coding Guidelines (Appendix C, 2023 SEER Manual). 

Does SEER Program Coding and Staging Manual Laterality Coding Instruction #4 preclude the use of code 4 [Bilateral involvement at time of diagnosis...] if a patient presents with KS involvement of only both arms or only both sides of the face?

Assign Laterality code 4 (Bilateral involvement at time of diagnosis, lateral origin unknown for a single primary) in the situations you describe. Skin of upper limb and shoulder and Skin of other and unspecific parts of the face are listed as a paired organs in the table Sites for Which Laterality Must Be Recorded In the 2023 SEER Manual.


SEER Manual/First Course Treatment--Radiation Treatment Modality: How is Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT), a form of molecular therapy, coded when used to treat neuroendocrine tumors? See Discussion.

The 2023 SEER Manual indicates PRRT should be coded in the Other Therapy field per coding instruction 2.d.  Likewise, SINQ 20180106 instructs to code PRRT as Other Therapy, while the discussion portion clearly outlines the radioactive nature of this modality.

Would PRRT be best coded as a radioisotope in the Radiation Treatment Modality--Phase I, II, III field rather than in the Other Therapy field?

For cases diagnosed in 2023 and later, Update to the current manual: Assign code 13 (Radioisotopes, NOS) in Radiation Treatment Modality--Phase I, II, III for PRRT.

We will make this change in the next version of the SEER Manual.


SEER Manual/First Course Treatment--Hematologic Transplant And Endocrine Procedures:  How are Surgery of Primary Site and the Hematologic Transplant And Endocrine Procedures data items coded when patient has total abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy for an endometrial primary during the same procedure? Also, how would these data items be coded for a vaginal primary in a surgical scenario?  See Discussion.

The 2023 SEER Manual instructions contain a new note in Hematologic Transplant And Endocrine Procedure, Coding Instruction 6, regarding bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (BSO) when performed for hormonal effect for breast, endometrial, vaginal, and other primary cancers. While we have observed BSO being performed for breast primaries, we do not recall ever seeing a statement for endometrial or vaginal primaries regarding a “BSO being done as hormonal manipulation” when scheduled either with or without a hysterectomy being performed simultaneously. As a result, we are not clear exactly when a BSO would be captured in the Hematologic Transplant And Endocrine Procedure field for these gynecologic primary sites.

Also, if these types of procedures are Hematologic Transplant And Endocrine Procedures, are they also captured and coded in the Surgery of Primary Site codes that directly relate to those same organs? Does timing have any effect on the coding of either field?

For a primary endometrial or ovarian cancer, record the oophorectomy/BSO procedure using the appropriate Surgery of Primary Site code that includes oophorectomy/BSO when done as part of first course of treatment (surgical resection). If performed for hormone effect, also record in the Hematologic Transplant and Endocrine Procedures data item.  For other primary sites whose Surgery of Primary Site codes do not include oophorectomy/BSO, record it in the Hematologic Transplant and Endocrine Procedures data item when performed for hormone effect.  Document information in the appropriate text fields.

Candidates for risk-reducing BSO may include those with hereditary syndromes (such as BRCA mutations) or genes that carry a substantially increased lifetime risk of ovarian malignancy or hormone-sensitive cancers including estrogen-dependent cancers, like breast cancer, ovarian cancer and endometrial (uterine) cancer that rely on estrogen to develop and grow.