Dogs can smell cancer in blood

Leslie Hanson
April 11, 2019

The study showed that dogs could use their highly evolved sense of smell to pick out blood samples from people with cancer with nearly 97 per cent accuracy.

In this new research, scientists found that dogs could sniff out blood samples from cancer patients with almost ideal accuracy.

Heather Junqueira is the lead researcher at BioScentDx and is the one who conducted the study.

Lead author Heather Junqueira said: 'Although there is now no cure for cancer, early detection offers the best hope of survival.

'This work is very exciting because it paves the way for further research along two paths, both of which could lead to new cancer-detection tools'.

In the study, the team used a special form of clicker trainer to teach four beagles to distinguish between normal blood samples and blood samples from people with lung cancer.

The firm now believes believe canine scent detection can be used to develop a non-invasive way of screening for cancer. One of the beagles, called Snuggles, unfortunately, was unwilling to learn.

However, the other three dogs did take part.

Dr David Crosby, head of early detection at Cancer Research UK, welcomed the results, although he cautioned that more research is needed into the area. It means there could be an option in the future for less expensive and less invasive ways to detect cancer early on.

The researchers are now looking at whether cancer-sniffing dogs can smell breast cancer on the breath of patients.

Further investigation will also be done to identify which chemical components in the substances are causing the smell that dogs can detect.

The researcher presented the findings to the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) in Florida on Monday.

What else can dogs smell? As such, our furry buds have been at the center of a number of studies utilizing their noses to detect or prevent a variety of life-threatening diseases and conditions, from predicting an impending epileptic seizure to successfully sniffing out Parkinson's disease. These dogs undergo extensive training to be able to detect and alert their handlers to changes in blood sugar levels. They correctly identified the normal samples 97.5 per cent of the time.

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