Background In this meta-analysis, we aimed to evaluate the PAX8 immunohistochemical expressions in primary lung cancers and metastatic cancers to the lung. Methods We identified and reviewed relevant articles from the PubMed databases. Ultimately, 18 articles were included in this meta-analysis. PAX8 expression rates were analyzed and compared between primary and metastatic lung cancers. Results The PAX8 expression rate in primary lung cancers was 0.042 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.025 to 0.071). PAX8 expression rates of small cell (0.129; 95% CI, 0.022 to 0.496) and non-small cell carcinomas of the lung (0.037; 95% CI, 0.022 to 0.061) were significantly different (p=.049 in a meta-regression test). However, the PAX8 expression rates of adenocarcinoma (0.013; 95% CI, 0.006 to 0.031) and squamous cell carcinoma (0.040; 95% CI, 0.016 to 0.097) were not significantly different. PAX8 expression rates of metastatic carcinomas to the lung varied, ranging from 1.8% to 94.9%. Metastatic carcinomas from the lung to other organs had a PAX8 expression rate of 6.3%. The PAX8 expression rates of metastatic carcinomas from the female genital organs, kidneys, and thyroid gland to the lung were higher than those of other metastatic carcinomas. Conclusions Primary lung cancers had a low PAX8 expression rate regardless of tumor subtype. However, the PAX8 expression rates of metastatic carcinomas from the female genital organs, kidneys, and thyroid were significantly higher than those of primary lung cancers.