Relationship Between Lung Cancer and Mycobacterium Avium Complex Isolated Using Bronchoscopy

Atsuhisa Tamura1, 2, *, Akira Hebisawa2, Kei Kusaka1, Takashi Hirose1, Junko Suzuki1, Akira Yamane1, Hideaki Nagai1, Takeshi Fukami3, Ken Ohta1, Fumiaki Takahashi4
1 Center for Pulmonary Diseases and Respiratory Disease Division, National Hospital Organization Tokyo National Hospital, Kiyose, Tokyo 204-8585, Japan
2 Clinical Research Center and Pathology Division, National Hospital Organization Tokyo National Hospital, Kiyose, Tokyo 204-8585, Japan
3 Center for Pulmonary Diseases and Chest Surgery Division, National Hospital Organization Tokyo National Hospital, Kiyose, Tokyo 204-8585, Japan
4 Clinical Research, Innovation and Education Center, Tohoku University Hospital, Sendai, Miyagi 980-8574, Japan

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© Tamura et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Center for Pulmonary Diseases and Respiratory Disease, National Hospital Organization Tokyo National Hospital, 3-1-1 Takeoka, Kiyose, Tokyo 204-8585, Japan; Tel: +81-424-91-2111; Fax: +81-424-94-2168; E-mail:



The incidence of Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC)-positive respiratory specimen cultures and MAC lung disease (MACLD) is increasing worldwide. This retrospective study aimed to assess the association between MAC culture-positive bronchoscopy specimens and lung cancer.

Materials and Methods:

The medical records of 1382 untreated lung cancer patients between 2003 and 2011 were collected using our hospital database. Of them, records for 1258 that had undergone bronchoscopy together with sampling for mycobacterial culture were reviewed. Patient characteristics were compared between those with MAC-positive/other nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM)-negative bronchial washings and those with MAC-negative/other NTM-negative bronchial washings. Patients with MAC-positive lung cancer were cross-sectionally divided into MACLD and non-MACLD groups, and their features were assessed. Follow-up data for patients with lung cancer but without MACLD were reviewed for subsequent development of MACLD.


Of the 1258 patients with lung cancer, 25 (2.0%) had MAC-positive/other NTM-negative bronchial washings. The proportion of women (52% vs 30%; P = 0.0274) and patient age (72 years vs 69 years; P = 0.0380) were significantly higher in the MAC-positive/other NTM-negative lung cancer group (n = 25) than in the MAC-negative/other NTM-negative lung cancer group (n = 1223). There were 10 patients with lung cancer and MACLD and 15 without MACLD; significant differences in patient characteristics were not found between the two groups, and none of the 15 patients without MACLD subsequently developed MACLD.


MAC culture-positive bronchial washing is positively associated with lung cancer. Female sex and advanced age, but not lung cancer characteristics, were found to be associated with MAC infection in patients with lung cancer.

Keywords: Advanced age, Bronchoscopy, Culture, Female, Lung cancer, Mycobacterium avium complex, Mycobacterium avium complex lung disease.