Dogs able to sniff out bowel cancer

by Leanne Thompson on February 8, 2011

labrador-retrieverScientists have revealed the results of a study that suggests dogs may be able to sniff out cancer in humans at an early stage.

Japanese boffins used a Labrador to smell the breath and stool samples from 300 volunteers, 48 of whom had bowel cancer, and were amazed when the dog’s ability to correctly identify those with the disease proved to be 95 per cent accurate, with a remarkable 98 per cent detection rate from stools.

The authors of the study had said that there was anecdotal proof that dogs were able to sniff out skin, bladder, ovarian, breast and lung cancers. These latest findings indicate that there may soon be a test for indications of the disease before it has a chance to spread to other areas of the body.

A researcher said:

“The accuracy of canine scent detection was high even for early cancer, regardless of whether the patient was a smoker or had an inflammatory or non-cancerous bowel disease.”

“This study shows that a specific cancer scent does indeed exist and that cancer-specific chemical compounds may be circulating throughout the body.”

Currently, the National Health Service screens patients using a faecal occult blood test, which detects traces of blood that indicate bowel cancer.

However, the test only has a 10 per cent success rate at detecting the disease.

Cancer charity Beating Bowel Cancer, welcomed the results. Chief executive Mark Flannagan said:

“This study looks interesting but it is for the scientists to verify whether these findings could lead to future developments for screening.”

This news will be of no surprise to anyone who has seen Arnold Schwarzenegger flick The Terminator and witnessed our canine friends’ ability to sniff out a Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 endoskeleton disguised as a human.

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