What is the International Classification of Diseases for Oncology ?
Oncology refers to the science of tumors, mainly the malignant variety. Malignant tumors tend to be harmful for the body by turning cancerous. Detection and treatment of cancer has now been provided a global standard with the introduction of the international classification of diseases for oncology. The classification is mainly used to aid and categorize tumors which are cancerous in order to code the site of occurrence and the cause for the development or growth of neoplasm in that precise area.

The report that is received from testing the pathology using techniques such as biopsy is used to ascertain the cause and ramifications of the tumor. It is for the reason of bringing all cancer treatments on an international platform which is applicable for all countries, that a classification of this sort was taken up and accomplished by the World Health Organization.

How if the classification made?
This classification classifies the region and reasons of cancer based on several factors. The classification itself is multi axial. The factors that are considered for the classification are the morphology, grading of neoplasm and behavior of the malignancy. Neoplasm that is malignant is classified on the basis of ICD -10 (International Classification of Diseases). Exceptions are made for the neoplasm developments that come under secondary neoplasm.

Further, neoplasm that is specific to certain morphological kinds of tumors are also exempted from the classification. The classification helps in providing a deeper and a more profound insight into malignancy and non-malignancy of tumors. The clarity of distinguishing between these two types of tumors is more precise with the use of this classification when compared to ICD-10. The details of the site of occurrence of the tumor and other such aspects are finely detailed in the current classification of oncology. ICD-O takes into consideration the topography of the place of occurrence of the tumor such as Reticuloendothelial and Haematopoietic tumors, which is something that was not included in IDC-10

What does the classification terminology mean ?
As per this classification, the axis of morphology details the information regarding the tumor with five digit codes which range between M-8000/0 and M-9989/3. The codes provide a comprehensive meaning regarding each type of cancer. In the above mentioned code, the four digits in the beginning, which in this case is 8000 denotes the precise histological term. The digit that comes after the slash provides an insight into the kind of tumor, which means, the number denotes the malignancy or benign nature of the tumor. The different types of tumors are benign, which is not harmful, malignant, which is highly harmful, which means the malignancy of the tumor is not certain. In some cases, a one digit code is separately included to denote histological grading.

When did the classification system come into being ?
The international classification for oncology was first brought into effect in 1976. After its introduction, the classification has been regularly upgraded based on new data that research has provided. For the last time, the classification was modified in 2000. The updates in the classification are made with respect to the nomenclature and categorization. Special emphasis is laid on variations in neurological and hematologic neoplasm.

The indexes available for coding the classification are in the form of a single combined index that is coded using alphabetical indexing. The classification is available in paper format as well as online format. People who require a copy of the classification can download the file from the respective website of the World Health Organization (WHO).

How can one access the training material and courses ?
In order to train medical practitioners from different parts of the world, the European Network of Cancer Registries has come forth with training programs. The course is help in association with the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The other institutes that make a significant contribution to these courses, seminars and workshops are the United Stated National Cancer Institute and the European Commission.

What are the languages in which the classification guide is available ?
To increase the reach and scope of the guide for the classification of diseases for oncology, the guide has been provided in a number of languages that are spoken by a large number of people in the world. The guide is published in English, Chinese, Czech, Flemish, Finnish, Dutch, German, French, Korean, Japanese, Turkish, Romanian, Portuguese and Spanish.

How is this classification related with other classifications ?
This classification has been prepared by taking into consideration data from all over the world and hence it can be collaborated with different national classifications, in addition to multinational and international classification. Further, for those wanting further clarification regarding the revisions in International Classification of Diseases, ICD – 9 and 10 and ICD – Oncology, tables are available that provide comparison charts. The classification of topography, which is a very significant inclusion in this version, is used chiefly for malignant tumors. The classification is made on the basis of the original report published in 1951 by the Manual of Tumor Nomenclature and coding (MOTNAC) of the American Cancer Society.

Benefits of ICD-O
The biggest benefit of having a classification dedicated entirely to oncology is that it helps tackle the serious issue of cancer in a much more efficient manner than before. Having an international classification code that provides a common platform for researchers and oncologists from all over the world discuss and share research information helps the cause of cancer in a big way. Further, owing to the classification, oncologists now have a more precise way of knowing whether a tumor is cancerous. This precise distinction itself is the biggest step towards planning and initiating treatment.

It is very beneficial if patients need to be treated in other countries, since the basis for diagnosis will the same everywhere. The various factors that are taken into consideration for preparing the classification provide a better platform for more definite diagnosis. This classification is more modern and encompasses a lot of modern research that the previous versions were lacking in, thus making it the perfect international benchmark for all oncology causes.

International Classification of Diseases for Oncology, 3rd Edition (ICD-O-3)
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