Training Dogs To Sniff out Cancer

The fact that dogs can smell cancer is nothing new. What is new, however, is the accuracy of the animal’s cancer detector: according to an American study, it is 97 percent accurate.

Dogs can sniff out cancer?

Compared to dogs, the human sense of smell is pathetic: animals smell 10,000 to 100,000 times better than we do. They can sniff out not only drugs and explosives but also cancer. However, in previous studies, the accuracy of the animals left something to be desired.

A new American study now surprises with an astonishingly high hit rate. According to the study, three beagles identified lung cancer in blood samples at a rate of 96.7 percent. The healthy control samples detected the animals in 97.5 percent of the cases. Only the fourth dog in the bunch, Snuggles, didn’t like the job at all.

Heather Junqueira, principal scientist at a research and product development company, BioScentDx, conducted the study and is nonetheless thrilled with the beagles’ performance. “Our work is paving the way for two potential research directions that could lead to new cancer detection methods.”

One possibility: dogs would also be given the job of screening patients for cancer in everyday medical practice. In addition, researchers could look for the biological components that the dogs can detect in the blood of people with cancer in order to develop tests that also screen for those components, Junqueira said.

BioScentDx already launched a breast cancer study in November. In that case, the dogs should be able to tell if disease is present by the breath of the subjects.