Application of the Milan System for Reporting Salivary Gland Cytopathology to cystic salivary gland lesions

Zahra Maleki, Derek B. Allison, Monica Butcher, Satomi Kawamoto, David W. Eisele, Liron Pantanowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Cystic salivary gland lesions present diagnostic challenges on fine-needle aspiration (FNA) specimens that are related to sampling limitations and a broad differential diagnosis. This study evaluated the benefit of applying the Milan System for Reporting Salivary Gland Cytopathology (MSRSGC) to a series of cystic salivary gland lesions. Methods: The pathology archives at the Johns Hopkins Hospital were searched to identify cystic salivary gland FNA specimens over a 19-year period (2000-2018). Patient demographics, cytomorphologic features, and clinical and surgical follow-up were recorded. The MSRSGC was applied to the cases. The risk of malignancy (ROM) and the risk of neoplasia (RON) were calculated for each category. Results: One hundred seventy-eight cases were identified (96 males and 82 females) with a mean age of 53 years (range, 4-90 years). After the MSRSGC was applied, there were 52 nondiagnostic cases (29.2%), 80 nonneoplastic cases (44.9%), 35 cases of atypia of undetermined significance (AUS; 19.7%), 3 benign neoplasms (1.7%), 3 salivary gland neoplasms of uncertain malignant potential (SUMP; 1.7%), 4 cases suspicious for malignancy (SFM; 2.2%), and 1 malignant case (0.6%). One hundred fifty-six of the 178 patients (87.6%) had follow-up data available. The RON and ROM values for cases with surgical follow-up were 33.3% (3 of 9) and 22.2% (2 of 9) for the nondiagnostic category, 42.9% (9 of 21) and 19% (4 of 21) for the nonneoplastic category, 76.5% (13 of 17) and 29.4% (5 of 17) for the AUS category, 100.0% (2 of 2) and 50.0% (1 of 2) for the SUMP category, and 100% (2 of 2) and 100% (2 of 2) for the SFM category, respectively. Conclusions: Applying the MSRSGC to cystic salivary gland lesions improves patient management by preventing unnecessary surgery for nonneoplastic conditions. The ROM was highest in the SFM category (100%), which was followed by the SUMP, AUS, nondiagnostic, and nonneoplastic categories. Less than adequate specimens may increase the diagnosis of AUS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-225
Number of pages12
JournalCancer Cytopathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Milan System for Reporting Salivary Gland Cytopathology
  • cyst
  • cystic salivary gland lesions
  • cytology
  • cytopathology
  • fine-needle aspiration (FNA)
  • head and neck pathology
  • salivary gland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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