Back to Pegasus definition listing

Choose a year from the dropdown to
view that year's definition


Date: May 2011


Any malignant tumour positively diagnosed with histological confirmation and characterised by the uncontrolled growth of malignant cells and invasion of tissue.

The term malignant tumour includes leukaemia, sarcoma and lymphoma except cutaneous lymphoma (lymphoma confined to the skin).

For the above definition, the following are not covered:

  • all cancers which are histologically classified as any of the following:
    • pre-malignant
    • non-invasive;
    • cancer in situ;
    • having borderline malignancy; or
    • having low malignant potential
  • all tumours of the prostate unless histologically classified as having a Gleason score greater than 6 or having progressed to at least clinical TNM classification T2N0M0.
  • chronic lymphocytic leukaemia unless histologically classified as having progressed to at least Binet Stage A.
  • any skin cancer (including cutaneous lymphoma) other than malignant melanoma that has been histologically classified as having caused invasion beyond the epidermis (outer layer of skin).


What does this mean?

Cancer is a malignant tumour or a malignancy. It causes uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that invade, damage and destroy surrounding bodily tissue. These cells can then spread and cause damage to other parts of the body.

Pre-malignant and non-invasive cancers and cancer in situ are very early stage cancers that have not invaded surrounding tissue and have not spread to other areas of the body. Treatment is relatively easy and successful and these cancers are not covered.

In line with Government policy, screening for prostate cancer will become widely available to men in the not too distant future. The key purpose of this screening is to detect prostate tumours at a much earlier stage than at present – before they cause any noticeable symptoms and when the illness can be more easily treated and cured. Accordingly, the less advanced prostate cancers are not covered. More advanced and more aggressive cases (typically those that are currently detected) will continue to be covered.

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) occurs predominantly in later life and is often a chance finding with no symptoms. Binet stage A CLL is typically kept under review rather than actively treated.

Most skin cancers, including cutaneous lymphoma, are also easy to treat and are also excluded. However, malignant melanoma is a very serious form of skin cancer that can very quickly spread throughout the body. This form of skin cancer is therefore included if it has invaded beyond the epidermis (outer layer of skin).

Back to Pegasus definition listing