NAACCR Path Lab Search Terms

NAACCR Path Lab Search Terms

Search Terms List for Screening Pathology Reports

Introduction and Purpose

The following list of terms has been developed by the NAACCR pathology laboratory subcommittee from lists contributed by several member registries. The terms are intended to be a resource for registries wishing to screen the electronic text of pathology reports to select those reports which may contain the diagnosis of a malignancy. Many of the search terms are derived from the morphology text description from ICD-O and SNOMED coding schemes, common text phrases seen in a pathology report, and routine procedures performed in pathology settings. Selected reports then need to be processed electronically or manually to determine whether they contain a reportable diagnosis.

This list is intended to produce a high rate of false positive reports; that is, it will select many reports that do not contain cancer. It screens for both reportable terms and procedures that might not result in the diagnosis of a cancer. As the list is defined, it does not differentiate between terms listed in a clinical diagnosis and a final diagnosis of a pathology report. The processing system to implement this list needs to be designed to distinguish between terms listed in multiple sections of a report.

The format of this list includes:

This is a sequential number assigned to each search term. When terms are no longer active, the term will be retired. The sequential number will NOT be reused. This column is helpful in code control within a software package.
Search Term:
The diagnosis or character string that is identified in a pathology reports as potential reportable.
Term Type:
Description of the search term; The 2010 update of this list includes 11 classifications for term type. Descriptions are included in a separate tab on the downloadable excel file.
Morphology, Histology, Behavior, and Site:
Codes for these items are included when available – future versions of the list will include additional and updated codes.
Date Added/Updated:
Identifies new terms or terms that have been modified. Useful for updating central registries lists on a routine basis.

Update information for the 3/2010 list

The NAACCR Search Term list for pathology reporting has been updated with terms supplied by many member registries. Both Cancer Care Ontario and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC) performed extensive review and provided enhancements. The National Program of Cancer Registries also provided evaluation and validation work through their Advancing E-cancer Reporting and Registry Operations (AERRO) project. And the newly added terms in version 1.4 of the NIH’s Hematopoietic DataBase are also included.

The new list preserved the ID numbering of the previous lists and the dates terms were added/updated. In addition, terms were re-categorized to help users determine the type of term (morphology, procedure, history of, etc) and whether it would be appropriate to include in its filtering system. The new search term list also provides the ICD-O-3 morphology code when appropriate.

Further effort is needed so that the updating process can be performed more efficiently and more frequently. An alternative to excel spreadsheet review and updating is preferred as the current method is tedious and prone to duplication and error. The IT Committee has provided several suggestions as a starting point for this effort.

Search Terms List

List Maintenance and Additions

Member registries may submit suggested additions or correction to the list by sending an email to Submissions will be reviewed by members of the Path Lab Subcommittee and the list will be updated accordingly.


This list intended only as a resource. There is no guarantee that it will select all reportable conditions for every registry. It should be reviewed for completeness as well as appropriate confidentiality procedures in each registry’s case finding processes and lists.


This list of terms was originally developed by the Cancer Surveillance System at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

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