After the patient has recovered and is seen for follow-up treatment (or for other unrelated visits), the V-code for the personal history of malignancy should be assigned. This is especially crucial for patients who are undergoing biopsies of other areas to determine whether another malignancy exists. Also, ICD-9-CM provides a section of codes for family history of certain malignancies. These codes are important because heredity does appear to play an important role in some neoplasms and the presence of these codes adds an important piece of information to the record. In addition, in some cases, the family history code, such as code V16.0 for family history of colon CA, affects medical necessity for some services. Coders should be diligent however, in differentiating between personal history and family history of malignancy codes. For the vast majority of cases, no history code is reported when the patient has had a prior benign neoplasm, with one exception. For a personal history of a benign brain tumor, code V12.41 should be coded. Unlike most benign neoplasms that are not generally a persistent problem once treated, benign neoplasms of the brain often recur and can be difficult to treat. In addition, benign neoplasms of the brain may be life threatening. Refer to Coding Clinic, 4th Quarter 1997, p. 48, for this guideline.
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