They aren’t officially called DOG scans (yet anyway) and they are not available for people yet – but there is more research that shows that dogs can detect various cancers – including breast cancer! Dogs can smell 10,000 to 100,000 times better than people.
I love dogs and have always been fascinated with this topic ever since I first heard about it!
Back in 2004 a study was done in England where they showed that dogs could be trained to detect bladder cancer. They were correct in 41% of the cases – way greater than by chance. And – one person who was believed to be cancer free the dogs kept indicating had cancer – after further testing he turned out this person did have kidney cancer.
Previous research has also shown that dogs can detect some skin cancers.
In recent research to appear in the March 2006 issue of Integrative Cancer Therapies there is now evidence that dogs can also be trained to detect lung and breast cancers in the breath of people. People with cancer tend to have small amounts of chemicals such as alkanes and benzene derivatives in their breath. In this recent study people with and without cancer gave breath samples that were captured in a tube for the dogs to sniff.
The dogs were able to detect 99% of the lung cancer and 88% of the breast cancer samples. Five dogs were trained for this experiment which also involved 55 people with lung cancer, 31 with breast cancer and 83 people with no known cancers. The dogs were Labrador retrievers and Portuguese water dogs.
What do you think – will dogs eventually be used to detect cancer or will new technologies be developed that use the same techniques dogs do to detect it? And long will it take before either way is widely available for people? I hope sooner than later – but these kind of things generally take a long time. 5-10 years maybe?
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