SS18 Break-Apart Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization is a Practical and Effective Method for Diagnosing Microsecretory Adenocarcinoma of Salivary Glands

Justin A. Bishop, Prasad Koduru, Brandon M. Veremis, Bahram R. Oliai, Ilan Weinreb, Lisa M. Rooper, Brendan C. Dickson, Elizabeth G. Demicco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Molecular analysis has allowed for refinement of salivary gland tumor classification and, in some cases, the recognition of entirely new tumor types. Microsecretory adenocarcinoma (MSA) is a salivary gland tumor described in 2019 characterized by microcystic growth, bland cytomorphology, luminal secretions, fibromyxoid stroma, and S100/p63 positivity with negative p40. Most important, MSA is defined by MEF2C-SS18 fusion. While this fusion has, to this point, been detected by next-generation sequencing, this is a technique that is currently inaccessible in most diagnostic laboratories. On the other hand, SS18 break-apart fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) is widely available and frequently used as an adjunct for diagnosing synovial sarcoma. It is not known if SS18 break-apart FISH is positive in tumors with MEF2C-SS18, or if it is entirely specific for MSA. Break apart FISH for SS18 was performed on 4 cases of MSA, as well as 8 tissue microarrays (TMAs) containing 423 various salivary gland carcinomas: 26 acinic cell carcinomas, 35 adenocarcinomas not otherwise specified, 96 adenoid cystic carcinomas, 3 basal cell adenocarcinomas, 20 epithelial–myoepithelial carcinomas, 15 hyalinizing clear cell carcinomas, 3 intraductal carcinomas, 12 myoepithelial carcinomas, 117 mucoepidermoid carcinomas, 30 polymorphous adenocarcinomas, 45 salivary duct carcinomas, 19 secretory carcinomas, and 2 undifferentiated carcinomas. SS18 break-apart FISH was also performed on whole slides of 2 tumors from the TMAs. All MSA cases demonstrated classic split patterns on SS18 break-apart FISH. On the TMAs, 374 cases were evaluable by FISH, and 372 cases were clearly negative for SS18 rearrangement. Two cases, both mucoepidermoid carcinomas, had rare split signals below the positivity threshold of 12% on their TMA cores, so FISH was performed on whole sections. On the whole sections both tumors were unequivocally negative for SS18 rearrangement. Taken together, SS18 break-apart FISH was 100% sensitive and 100% specific for a diagnosis of MSA. SS18 break-apart FISH, a diagnostic tool widely available in pathology laboratories, appears to be a highly accurate method for diagnosing MSA of salivary glands. Accordingly, this new tumor type may be molecularly confirmed without needing to resort to highly specialized techniques like next-generation sequencing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)723-726
Number of pages4
JournalHead and Neck Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Fluorescence in situ hybridization
  • MEF2C-SS18
  • Microsecretory adenocarcinoma
  • Salivary gland neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Oncology


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