Medical Coding Training: Identify the Warning Signs of Cancer

Plus, look at the codes for the lesions

And as far as skin cancer goes, we've had more than a million new cases every year that get reported. So, it is the number one form of cancer in the United States and its rising faster than any other type of cancer. Read this expert medical billing and coding training article for more.

Most of them appear on your face, head and neck, top of the shoulders, you know, the ear area -- things like that where the heavy sun exposed parts of the body are. And that's really about 80% of the cases. That's where you're going to find them.

So, the primary cause of it is the UV, the ultraviolet radiation from the sun. But you can get it from tanning booth. And artificial lamps also can give you that same ultraviolet radiation.

Our expert mentioned it in a medical coding conference that one out of every three new cancers is a skin cancer. And again, 80% of those are going to be basal cell. One of the warning signs is the open source, bleeding, oozing things like that or a persistent non-healing sore. So, the American Cancer Society had put out - and the American Academy of Dermatology supports, the ABCDEs of skin cancer.

A  warning sign is the shiny bump or nodule. Usually you'll them as pearly white or translucent. Another one is a pink growth that has kind of like an indentation in the middle. And then another sign is like a scar like area. It kind of looks more like a scar. The skin will be tight and shiny. And usually, these are more aggressive ones.

Now, squamous cell carcinoma is about 200,000 cases. About 20% of the cases will squamous cell carcinomas. Again, it's confined to, you know, basically the head, face, neck, shoulders area but an be anywhere in the body.

They will - with the squamous cell carcinoma, these are the ones that remain confined usually for a while to the epidermis but if they go untreated, they will invade and metastasize to the underlying - well, I shouldn't say metastasize. They will invade and penetrate the underlying tissue.

And these are ones where you will see these excisions that get really large and disfiguring, where they have to have grafts and all these kinds of things if they let them go for too long because they just kind of keep digging down and down and down.

And then the last kind is the melanoma, which is the most serious but it also the most highly curable if it is caught early. In the early stages, it's almost 100% curable. So, it's getting these things caught in time that's the big thing to get.

Let’s take a look at the medical coding options for reporting the lesions.  Because if you look at the codes for the benign ones, the code range starts at 11400 and goes through 11471, if you look at all of them that are in there. And the malignant section starts at 11600 and goes through 11646. So, pretty large section in here or subsections.

So, benign versus malignant is the first thing we look at though at the first breakdown of how to code and then you look at your anatomic site of course, and then the size and the type of closure. Now, the type of closure is important all the way back from the definition of what an excision is when it said it was full thickness and then included simple, non-layered closure when performed.

So that's the other big piece of this, is that a simple closure is bundled so the physician or the provider that's doing the excision, if they do a repair, they need to be specific on the type of repair that was done in order to get credit or get the extra coding opportunity when it becomes available because of the type of closure that was necessary to close the defect after the excision is performed as per the medical coding rules.

For more lesion excision medical coding updates and information, visit our medical coding conference page.