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Dogs Diagnose Lung Cancer From Breath

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Dogs Diagnose Lung Cancer From Breath

Dogs leading the way in early stage lung cancer diagnosis…

Half the battle against lung cancer is early diagnosis, and while MRI, CT, and Pet scans, and good old fashioned X-rays all provide doctors with a way to detect the fatal disease, these test aren’t so good at picking up the early signs of lung cancer.

In hope of developing an accurate method to diagnose early stage lung cancer, scientists have turned to mans’ best friend for help.

dogs sniff out lung cancer

Dogs Can Smell Lung Cancer On Patients Breath

Image Credit: European Lung Foundation, 2011.

Researchers from the Schillerhoehe Hospital in Germany have found the specially trained sniffer dogs have the ability to smell lung cancer in our breath by identifying the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are linked to the presence of the disease.

Not only that, they also found that our canine friends can detect these chemical markers even after a patient has eaten food or smoked a cigarette. Furthermore, the dogs were also able to distinguish and identify lung cancer from other disease such as emphysema. This leads to scientists to believe that lung cancer has its own specific smell.

While that may seem quite farfetched, researchers have already shown that dogs can sniff out ovarian, colon, breast and skin cancer, and can also tell identical twins apart by scent alone.

The study, like others before it, used patients’ whose cancer had already been diagnosed, but researchers are confident that this technique could be used to pick up the very first signs of lung cancer.

The next step is to try and home in on these markers, and once the scientists have pinpointed the chemical signature, they plan to use electronic noses – highly sensitive sensors that can detect the presence of certain chemicals in the air – to take over the job of sniffing and diagnosing.

Research was published in the new research published in the European Respiratory Journal.


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