Background: Flexible bronchoscopy is commonly used to examine patients suspected to have lung cancer. Bronchial brushing is one of the cytological technologies for lung specimens obtained through a bronchoscope. However, the accuracy of bronchial brushing cytology (BBC) for lung cancer diagnosis is still inconclusive. The aim of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of BBC. Methods: A literature search was conducted with PubMed, Embase, the Cochrane Library, Web of Science, Biomed Central, Clinical Key, and ClinicalTrials.gov. Studies that assessed the efficacy of BBC in detecting lung cancer were included. Articles that estimated the accuracy on a per-patient basis were included. Review articles, case reports, and research that provided insufficient data to construct a 2 × 2 table were excluded. Both prospective trials and retrospective studies were included. English language studies were reviewed. Data synthesis was performed with a random-effects model. Results: Seventeen studies with 2538 patients were included in the study. The meta-analysis for BBC generated a pooled sensitivity of 0.67 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.65-0.70) and a pooled specificity of 0.91 (95% CI, 0.89-0.93). The pooled diagnostic odds ratio for BBC was 24.55 (95% CI, 12.39-48.66). The subgroup analysis for studies using liquid-based cytology (LBC) generated a pooled sensitivity of 0.68 and a pooled specificity of 0.92. The pooled diagnostic odds ratio of studies using LBC was 114.18. Conclusions: These findings indicate that BBC is a discriminative diagnostic approach with moderate sensitivity and high specificity for diagnosing peripheral pulmonary lesions. BBC using LBC has higher diagnostic performance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCancer cytopathology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • bronchial brushing cytology
  • bronchoscopy
  • lung neoplasms
  • meta-analysis
  • sensitivity and specificity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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