Sniffer dogs will be in demand not only by the cops, but by the docs too. A recent discovery has increased their demand as these dogs can detect lung cancer, a disease which does not reveal any symptoms and early detections are a matter of chance, according to a new research published in the European Respiratory Journal.
The scientists worked with four canines— two German Shepherds, a Lab and an Australian shepherd and the dogs were able to detect a tumor in 71 percent of the patients.
Current methods of detection are unreliable and a WebMD reports that in a recent study, longtime smokers who went in for annual CT scans of their lungs cut their risk of dying from lung cancer by only 20%.
The trained dogs are also able to distinguish between patients with lung cancer and those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as well as between smokers and nonsmokers.
“Our results confirm the presence of a stable marker for lung cancer,” wrote lead author Thorsten Walles of Schillerhoehe Hospital, in a statement. “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.”
While there has been some precedent for disease-sniffing dogs in other studies, they have had anywhere from 40% to 90% success in accurately identifying cancers including bladder and colon cancers, more work needs to be done before dogs become part of a clinical workup.
In the German study Walles worked with dogs for nine months to recognize the scent of cancer.
It is not very clear what odor the dogs are detecting and Walles said, It is unfortunate that dogs cannot communicate the biochemistry of the scent of cancer!”
Though it might take a while before these dogs can sniff out cancer, time will tell how practical and adaptable to clinical trials this practice might turn out to be.