Early Cancer Detection With A Dog’s Wet Nose

2011-02-10 | |
Last updated: 2011-02-10

Catching A Whiff Of Lung Cancer

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.

The Dog Nose Knows Colorectal Cancer

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.

On The Hunt For Other Cancers

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.

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Category: Disease Prevention, General Health, Medical Research

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