As if we needed to add another reason to the list of why dogs are simply the best. As found by a team of researchers, a dogs nose may become the latest frontier in cancer detection.
A new study was presented at the 2019 annual meeting for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Orlando, Florida. The study presented during the Experimental Biology conference revealed how dogs can use their superb sense of smell to pick up on cancerous blood samples.
Since a dog’s sense of smell is up to 10,000 times more accurate than a human’s, they’re capable of picking up on odours that we cannot even perceive. In a lab, trained dogs were able to pick out cancerous blood samples from patients with close to a 97 percent accuracy.
Another reason why a dog is “man’s best friend”.
This finding could lead to canine cancer detection as a low-cost and non-invasive form of cancer screening. Lead researcher of this study, Heather Junqueira says: “This work is very exciting because it paves the way for further research along two paths, both of which could lead to new cancer-detection tools.
One is using canine scent detection as a screening method for cancers, and the other would be to determine the biologic compounds the dogs detect and then design cancer-screening tests based on those compounds.”
Heather worked with her team at BioScentDx to teach four beagles how to distinguish between healthy blood samples, and those from patients with malignant lung cancer.
While one pup did not cooperate, the other three were able to identify the samples at an accuracy of 96.7 percent.
With this finding, Heather and her team are now testing whether dogs can smell cancer in the breath condensate of breast cancer patients.
After launching a breast cancer study, participants were able to donate samples of their breath for screening, done by none other than cancer-detecting dogs.
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Heather states: “We’ve seen these dogs detect pre-cancerous cells, meaning those at stage 0-1. Our 26 dogs include general cancer dogs and those trained in specific tumor types: currently breast and lung, and soon to be expanded to include prostate, colorectal and melanoma.”
These tests could be more viable and affordable than traditional screening methods. Currently their testing goes for $50 on their website and while this method of detection is “still in training”, Heather also reminds that these screenings are not meant to replace a preventative visit to your medical doctor.
While people all over the planet are working around the clock to find a cure for cancer, early detection is of great importance, as in many cases early detection can offer the best hopes of survival.
These new tests could potentially save thousands of lives, and change the way the disease is treated.
If you have a dog friend at home, give him a little pat on the head, dogs do so much for us, and ask for so little in return.
Who knows, perhaps dogs can also be used to detect other diseases? You may know from your own experience how they have an innate ability to sense when something is wrong.