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NOTE: A surveillance case definition is a set of uniform criteria used to define a disease for public health surveillance. Surveillance case definitions enable public health officials to classify and count cases consistently across reporting jurisdictions. Surveillance case definitions are not intended to be used by healthcare providers for making a clinical diagnosis or determining how to meet an individual patient’s health needs.

CSTE Position Statement(s)

  • 09-CD-01

Clinical Description

Cancer cases under national public health surveillance include:

  • Incident invasive cancers at all sites with the exception of basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin;
  • Incident in situ cancers at all sites with the exception of carcinoma in situ of the cervix uteri, or any intraepithelial neoplasia (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia [CIN], prostate intraepithelial neoplasia [PIN], etc.);
  • Incident benign and borderline central nervous system tumors

Laboratory Criteria For Diagnosis

Pathological or cytological diagnosis

Case Classification


  • A diagnosis of cancer (in situ or invasive) or central nervous system tumor (benign or borderline) by a recognized medical practitioner that includes the use of specific terms synonymous with cancer, including but not limited to: "cancer," "malignant," "carcinoma," "sarcoma," "leukemia," and "lymphoma," OR
  • Laboratory-confirmed cases are those that have a positive histology or cytology, or other positive microscopic confirmation*.


*Although more than 90 percent of cancer cases are confirmed microscopically, microscopic confirmation is not required for a confirmed or definite case.

Incident cancer cases are classified according to primary anatomic site (topography) and cellular characteristics (morphology including histology, behavior, and grade) using the International Classification of Diseases for Oncology, Third Edition (ICD-O-3).