By Janet Fang
Posting in Cancer
Two German shepherds, a Lab and an Aussie shepherd smell 220 people's breaths. And they identified lung cancer reliably, despite tobacco smoke and food smells.
Ruh huh! Sniffer dogs could be used for the early detection of lung cancer, German scientists show.
Still the most common cause of death from cancer worldwide, lung cancer isn’t strongly associated with any symptoms, and early detection is usually by chance.
Oftentimes, the presence of cancer is linked to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced by tumors. However, no lung cancer-specific VOCs have ever been identified because patients aren't allowed to eat or smoke before the test, analyses take a long time, and the risk of interference is high.
So a team led by Thorsten Walles of Schillerhoehe Hospital wanted to see if trained sniffer dogs could identify a VOC in the breath of patients.
In particular, 2 German shepherds, an Australian shepherd and a Labrador were given exhaled breath specimens from 220 cancer patients, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients, and healthy volunteers.
The participants breathed into glass tubes filled with fleece that absorbed smells, and the dogs sniffed the tubes, sitting down in front of those they detect lung cancer in.
- The dogs successfully identified 71% of the samples with lung cancer.
- They correctly detected 372 samples that didn’t have lung cancer out of 400. That’s a 93% success rate... nearly no false positives!
- The dogs even detected lung cancer independently from COPD, tobacco smoke, medication, and even food odors. (Current lab tests can’t even do this.)
First of all, these results confirm that there IS a specific marker for lung cancer separate from COPD and the rest. And second… dogs are reliable (and amazing).
Their keen sense of smell, according to Walles, detects the chemical differences between healthy people and lung cancer patients at an early stage of the disease. Only 15% of lung cancers are currently diagnosed before the disease spreads to other organs… at that point, the 5-year survival rate is 2%.
Dogs have been shown to detect colon cancer, breast cancer, melanoma, and even bombs. With this new study, canine breathalyzers not only smelled lung cancer even when a patient had recently eaten or smoked a cigarette, they also didn’t mistake other scents for cancer.
“This is a big step forward in the diagnosis of lung cancer, but we still need to precisely identify the compounds observed in the exhaled breath of patients,” Walles says. “It is unfortunate that dogs cannot communicate the biochemistry of the scent of cancer!”
Once they figure out the chemical the dogs are detecting, researchers can develop a screening method. Some are already working on ‘electronic noses’ that would be able to detect the same chemical as dogs.
The study was published in the European Respiratory Journal.
Image by xandert via morgueFile
Aug 22, 2011
My dog used to warn me about heart attacks, lung cancer and the like, and I was so grateful that I wrote him into my will. Now he doesn't warn me anymore! Just kidding! No, dogs are bundles of furry love... like my old girlfriend, Neanda. It is a good indicator of how twisted Islam is, in that it vilifies them, or at least, interacting with them. Ya gotta love a dog!
My Chakli (Coal, in my language) smells my breath whenever I get back in the pickup after going into a store, & his reaction to food smells is markedly different from non-food smells. It's a lot like being a teen-ager again, & having my breath smelled to see if I had been drinking. If I don't bring him something from the table, I get The Dirtiest Looks..... His predecessor, Wa Ska (Snow White, in my language), could scent rattlesnakes at a solid 100 feet, & she would snarl like a tiger. Considering her otherwise sweet disposition, this was a great thing, since I live in the country.. My dog who went to university with me, Sandy, was deadly about marijuana, & would bite anyone who had that smell on them.. GOOD DOG, Sandy! And Sandy was never wrong about whether a person was friendly or dangerous, either. Handy if giving rides to hitchikers in bad weather - they put their hands up near the window-opening & let him smell them. If he wagged his tail, they were good. If he tried to eat the glass, they had to look for another ride. And he was absolutely never wrong, in 17 years.. All of them natural (ie, not taught / learned behaviors). This is nothing new. But is good to see just the same.
if the researchers do not know what the dogs are reacting to, how were the dogs trained?? Are you saying it is a natural reaction for the dog to sit when they sniff cancer VOCs? I guess I need to get a dog. My cats will come snuggle with me when I am 48 hours from dying. At least the dog will give me longer warning. - except I have never been a smoker.
"Some are already working on ???electronic noses??? that would be able to detect the same chemical as dogs" Why not just use dogs?
Between sniffing out cancer, expolsives, drugs and those dogs that are trained for law enforcement / military purposes, I can't help but appreciate what a dog's nose is capable of. And you can't forget the services provided by companion/guide dogs. In general, a properly trained pup is just plain good for us...