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Early Detection of Cancer With a Dog's Wet Nose

Post: #1
02-10-2011, 08:03 AM
member33921 Offline
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Early Detection of Cancer With a Dog's Wet Nose

To maximize the odds of surviving cancer, early diagnosis is key. Detection of cancer in its early stages limits the ability of the cancer cells to metastasize or spread while also limiting the damage done by the rapidly increasing number of malignant cells. In many cases, however, patients with early stage cancer do not show symptoms, which makes early detection difficult. At the same time, even if symptoms are present, many of our detection technologies also fail to accurately detect these cancers when they are most treatable.

While researchers are making progress in detecting the characteristic airborne chemicals that result from some cancers, most of their techniques pale in comparison to the ability of the canine nose. Although the ability of tracking dogs to find a lost child, human remains or to track a criminal is well known, the abilities of dogs to detect illness are equally remarkable. In particular, the ability of trained dogs to detect a number of cancers offers hope for early detection.

Among the top 5 deadliest cancers, the pancreatic, lung, breast, ovarian and colorectal forms, survival depends heavily on early detection. For those with early stage lung cancer who receive treatment, 88% will be alive after 10 years according to research in the the New England Journal of Medicine. At the same time, the survival of those with mid-stage lung cancer, is only two years or less. Similarly, for those who actually show symptoms of pancreatic cancer before receiving treatment, only 1 in 25 will be alive after 5 years.

With these sorts of grim statistics, the use of dogs to detect cancer is an intriguing idea for advancing early detection and treatment. To that end, researchers from the University Hospital in Goteborg used trained dogs to attempt to detect Ovarian Cancer in tissue samples. They found that the dogs could detect early stage Ovarian Cancer and were able to discern this type of cancer from related cancers such as Cervical Cancer and cancers of the uterus. The dogs were more than 97% accurate in the detection of this cancer.

In other attempts at early detection of the most deadly cancers, dogs smelling the breath of women were able to detect 88% of breast cancer cases. The study by the Pine Street Foundation and the University of California trained common dogs over several weeks for this purpose. The dogs were able to detect breast cancer in even the early stages.

The same study also found that trained dogs could detect lung cancer with an accuracy of 99% in all stages of the disease. The extremely high accuracy in this case makes sense because the diseased lungs are in direct contact with the air being exhaled. In any case, these results show considerable promise for the use of dogs in early stage lung cancer detection.

Other very recent studies have found similar results for another top-5 cancer killer, colorectal cancer. In this case, researchers from Kyushu University trained a dog to detect the disease in the breath of volunteers. What they found was that using breath samples, the dog was able to detect the cancer with 91% accuracy. The dog's accuracy rose to 97% when feces were used to provide the odor. The results were found to be accurate even in the early stages of the cancer.

Aside from these top five cancer killers, other studies have found that dogs can also be trained to detect a variety of cancers. In one study, dogs demonstrated an ability to detect skin cancer with 75 to 85% accuracy. A different study from Paris University found that dogs could be trained to detect prostate cancer with 91% accuracy. In this case, the dogs smelled urine to detect the disease. While these last cancers are certainly not as dangerous as the top 5 cancers, early detection is still of considerable benefit in saving lives.

While researchers attempt to replicate the sensitivity of the canine nose in being able to detect cancer, they have not yet achieved the capability that evolution has provided to our furry companions. Many doctors are conservative and would be hesitant to use dogs in a clinical setting but the considerable accuracy that dogs offer in the detection of cancer should not overlooked. At the same time, public health officials should consider the use of dogs in early cancer detection in order to cut cancer treatment costs and raise treatment effectiveness. The use of cancer sniffing dogs in public venues could reasonably be argued as an affordable mass-screening tool.

Have you experienced cancer? Have you experienced the sensitivity of animals in detecting illness? Consider sharing your experiences in the cancer forums.

Related Links

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa060476
http://www.oncologychannel.com/lungcancer/treatment.shtml
http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/type/pancreatic-cancer/treatment/statistics-and-outlook-for-pancreatic-cancer#stage
http://ict.sagepub.com/content/7/2/76.abstract
http://www.journalvetbehavior.com/article/S1558-7878%2810%2900003-1/abstract
http://ict.sagepub.com/content/5/1/30.abstract
http://gut.bmj.com/content/early/2011/01/17/gut.2010.218305.abstract
http://www.ersj.org.uk/content/34/1/261.full
http://www.europeanurology.com/article/S0302-2838%2810%2900944-9/abstract



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Post: #2
09-15-2016, 09:32 PM
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Early Detection of Cancer With a Dog's Wet Nose

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