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Question: 20130098 Status

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Histology--Heme & Lymphoid Neoplasms: Why did the hematopoietic histology rule change regarding the coding of small lymphocytic lymphoma/chronic lymphocytic leukemia (SLL/CLL) from the lymphoma code (9670/3) to leukemia (9823/3) when both tissue and bone marrow are involved? See Discussion.

The answer in SINQ 20110035 that instructs us to code the primary site to bone marrow [C421] is the opposite of what has been coded for years. After all the years of coding SLL/CLL as a lymphoma when both tissue and bone marrow/blood are involved, why has the change to coding this to the leukemia code (9823/3) been made?

For cases diagnosed 2010 and forward, access the Hematopoietic Database at

There has been a change in coding practice based on a change in clinical classification of leukemia/lymphomas. In the past, we did, indeed, default to lymphoma when both tissue and bone marrow were involved. The problem was that when only bone marrow was involved, the case was coded to leukemia with a primary site of bone marrow. When lymphoma symptoms developed later, there was a lot of inconsistency in how registries handled these cases. Some coded a new primary "lymphoma;" while others ignored the lymphoma calling it progression.

The clinical world, including the hematopoietic experts in the World Health Organization and the Inter-Lymph Consortium, agreed that for certain neoplasms (CLL/SLL being one of them) it was not useful or practical to code the leukemia and lymphoma separately OR to capture only one of the neoplasms (because these neoplasms almost always progress to lymphoma); so new codes for the leukemia/lymphoma were developed. According to the experts, 9823/3 most accurately portrays the neoplastic process for the neoplasms assigned to a lymphoma/leukemia code.

SEER*Educate provides training on how to use the Heme Manual and DB. If you are unsure how to arrive at the answer in this SINQ question, refer to SEER*Educate to practice coding hematopoietic and lymphoid neoplasms. Review the step-by-step instructions provided for each case scenario to learn how to use the application and manual to arrive at the answer provided.


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