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Lung and Breast Cancer Detection may benefit by the Use of Dogs

January 6th 2006

Lung and Breast Cancer Detection may benefit by the Use of Dogs

Household dogs

Both breast and lung cancer are the leading causes of cancer death worldwide.  It may be possible to quickly screen people in early stages of the disease using dogs.  It appears dogs have an extraordinary scenting ability for both early and late stage cancers. 

According to a study led by Michael McCulloch of the Pine Street Foundation in San Anselmo California, and Tadeusz Jezierski of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding, dogs can detect the cancers with accuracy (sensitivity and specificity) between 88 and 97 percent.

Scientists were first became aware to the idea of using canines for detection when a dog alerted its owner to the presence of a melanoma by constantly sniffing the skin lesion.  The canine olfactory discrimination can identify chemicals that are diluted as low as “parts per trillion”. 

 

The researchers used five household dogs for this study.  They were able to train the dogs within three weeks to detect lung or breast cancer by sniffing the breath of the cancer patients. 

The study included 86 cancer patients; 55 with lung cancer and 31 with breast cancer.  They took breath samples for these patients and 83 control subjects that did not have cancer.  All of the cancer patients had recently been diagnosed with the disease through biopsy-confirmed after conventional methods of screening such as a mammogram, or CAT scan. None had yet undergone any chemotherapy treatment.

All participants gave breath samples that were kept in a tube.  The dogs were trained to give positive identification of a cancer patient by sitting or lying down directly in front of the test station that contained the positive sample.  The dogs were trained to ignore the other samples.

 

According to the study, high accuracy persisted even after the results were adjusted to take into account whether the lung cancer patients were currently smokers.  The researchers believe that breath analysis has “the potential to provide a substantial reduction in the uncertainty currently seen in cancer diagnosis, once further work has been carried out to standardize and expand this methodology.”

Standard, humane methods of dog training employing food rewards and a clicker, as well as assessment of the dog's behavior by observers blinded to the identity of the cancer patient and control samples, were used in the experiment.  This was taken from research originally published in the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies.  The journal is published by Sage Publications.

 

 
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By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

Books on Cancer
 

  Keywords and misspellings: canser cancar


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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:45 PM