April 23, 2019

Study shows dogs can accurately sniff out cancer in blood

11 April 2019, 05:14 | Silvia Roy

HealthScienceTech & AutoTechnologyDogs can sniff out early signs of cancer in humans with 97% accuracy Ben Gelblum

HealthScienceTech & AutoTechnologyDogs can sniff out early signs of cancer in humans with 97% accuracy Ben Gelblum

The study was performed by BioScentDx's Heather Junqueira, who found that dogs had around 97-percent accuracy when detecting blood samples taken from healthy and cancer patients.

As a next step, the company launched a breast cancer study in November in which participants donate samples of their breath for screening by trained cancer-sniffing dogs.

Beagles have been trained to sniff out cancer, and they are doing it with up to 97% accuracy up to 18 months before medical tests; researchers hope to be able to identify the compounds the dogs are smelling to design new cancer screening tests.

The researchers plan to use canine scent detection to develop a non-invasive way of screening for cancer. The study could lead to new non-invasive methods to detect cancer early and improve the survival rate.

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The finding raises hopes that dogs could soon be used to detect cancer in people at a much earlier stage than other methods of screening, increasing the chance of tackling the disease effectively.

The team used a form of clicker training to teach four beagles to distinguish between normal blood and samples from patients with malignant lung cancer.

Dogs have smell receptors that are around 10,000 times more sensitive than humans - meaning they can often detect smells unperceivable to humans - and even sniff out smells that are years old. 'A highly sensitive test for detecting cancer could change the way the disease is treated. For more on this, check out this new study about how dogs can smell seizures before they start. One of the beagles, called Snuggles, unfortunately, was unwilling to learn.

Heather Junqueira, who led the study, said: "Although there is now no cure for cancer, early detection offers the best hope of survival".

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The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Orlando.

And cancer isn't the only disease that dogs can assist in detecting.

"This study paves the way for a larger scale research project created to explore the use of canine scent detection as a tool for detecting cancer biomarkers, ultimately leading to their identification", reads the yet-to-be-published study abstract.

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