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Cancer Registry Abstracting Tips

Cancer Registry Abstracting Tips for 2018+

Thu, Jul 19, 2018  -  Comments (0)  -   Posted by Cortney Grossman , Kelly Imbody

Recently the two of us collaborated on a list of cancer registry abstracting tips for our CHAMPS Oncology colleagues. It’s basically a list of references and tips we put together after collaborating to abstract a couple months of 2018 cases. Well, we are pleased to say our cancer registry abstracting tips were very well received. So well received, that we were asked to share the information in a blog post. So here goes...


>>> These changes are for cases diagnosed in 2018 and beyond only.
    • Cases diagnosed on 12.31.17 or prior, with a date of first contact in 2018, will still go by the 2017 rules.
>>> The only data items that are new or revised for 2018 are related to grade, AJCC staging, site-specific data items and radiation treatment.

>>> Doctors need to give a patient a stage for patient care purposes.
    • We need to stage by our rules because our data is for research purposes, they don’t always line up or match. We cannot “downstage.” Only physicians can use that philosophy in patient care. Also, if you don’t have prognostic indicators and you need them to stage, your group stage would be 99 in your database.
    • Links to manuals and drafts with notification of changes and updates.
    • Read each chapter before starting a site.
    • Update your manual with current errata changes.
    • Use the correct tables in the chapters for staging (e.g., in the breast chapter there is a clinical and a pathologic stage group table)
    • Support clinical and path stage in text and note if the 7th or 8th edition was used for stage (remember the stage fields are left blank until the database update).
      - Your stage may not always match the physician’s due to their need to stage for treatment purposes differing from our rules or due to patients crossing over from 2017 into 2018. (e.g., a physician mixing clinical and path TNM, path templates switching to 2018 when patient was diagnosed in 2017)
    • Every chapter has a “registry data collection variables” section, it’s a good indication of what to text.
>>> SSDI Manual (previously SSFs)
    • Use the Schema ID Table as a guide for what SSDIs are required for 2018 cases by site (remember the SSF fields are left blank until database update converts to SSDI).
      - The schema list by AJCC chapter starts on page 30.
    • Quick link to cancer schema list.
    • Look at the draft manuals when dealing with multiple primaries and histologies, there are many changes. Some major examples are listed below (this is not a complete list):
      - Grade is now more important than subtypes for DCIS.
      - Polyps in colorectal cancer are now disregarded and coded to the cell type.
      - Terms such as subtypes, variants, features, etc., differ by site. In some sites these terms are no longer used in determining histology.
    • Grade has changed significantly compared to the past (remember the grade field is left blank until database update).
      - The schema list by AJCC chapter starts on page 8.
    • Changes have been made to mirror the AJCC 8th Edition chapters.
    • Changes apply to ALL primary site and/or histology combinations.
      - Reminder: AJCC 8th Edition does not cover every primary site and/or histology combination.


Text all you can, look at the SSDI schema table to know what you will need and text the different types of grades you will need. Explain your stage in the text. Use the remarks section to make any comments about treatment still needed or a field you’re not sure about and want to double check later. We also enthusiastically recommend the free AJCC webinars and Category A CE’s, which can be accessed on their website, as well as NAACCR’s webinars if they are available to you.

Thanks for checking out our list of 2018 cancer registry abstracting tips! What would you add to our list?

Posted in Cancer Registry

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