Can dogs sniff out lung cancer?
“Dogs can be trained to identify the scent of lung cancer long before symptoms develop,” the Daily Mail has today reported. The newspaper said that “sniffer dogs can be relied upon to find the unique smell of the disease in seven out of 10 sufferers”.
The claim is based on a study that had trained four dogs to detect breath samples from people with lung cancer among those taken from healthy people and people with the lung condition COPD. The researchers determined that when three out of the four dogs agreed on which samples indicated lung cancer then this consensus could correctly detect a cancer sample 72% of the time. The dogs could also correctly rule out cancer in healthy samples 94% of the time.
However, the researchers point out that the dogs may have been detecting the medication used by the cancer patients rather than substances indicating the disease itself. This casts doubt on how well the technique might detect undiagnosed cancer. The accuracy of the test is unlikely to be the same in an unselected group from the general population. Therefore further testing will be needed.
As it stands, it is not possible to say whether dogs will be useful to sniff out early lung cancer in a sample outside of a research setting, such as a random selection from the general population or from high-risk groups. Although a novel idea, researchers must see whether cancer-specific compounds are actually released when a tumour is present, and assess the practicalities of using the technique outside of a research setting… story taken from… Yorkshire Evening Post.. read story… http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/health-news/nhs-choices/can_dogs_sniff_out_lung_cancer_1_3694652
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