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1-min read

Dogs Trained by Researchers Detect Lung Cancer with Almost 100 Percent Accuracy

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is responsible for most cancer deaths worldwide and early detection is the best opportunity for survival.

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Updated:June 23, 2019, 11:52 AM IST
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Dogs Trained by Researchers Detect Lung Cancer with Almost 100 Percent Accuracy
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Three dogs successfully sniffed lung cancer cells during a small study, researchers have said, calling for a larger-scale research project to “explore the use of canine scent detection as a tool for cancer biomarkers.”

“Early detection provides the best opportunity for lung cancer survival; however, lung cancer is difficult to detect early because symptoms do not often appear until later stages. Current screening methods such as x-ray and computed tomographic imaging lack the sensitivity and specificity needed for effective early diagnosis,” the researchers from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine said.

This is where they believe dogs could prove useful with their “highly developed olfactory systems and may be able to detect cancer in its primary stages.”

“Their scent detection could be used to identify biomarkers associated with various types of lung cancer.”

The researchers trained four 2-year-old beagles— one of whom was eventually removed from the study for being “unmotivated”— for eight weeks to determine the “accuracy of trained beagles’ ability to use their olfactory system to differentiate the odor of the blood serum of patients with lung cancer from the blood serum of healthy controls.”

None of the beagles had been previously trained to detect lung cancer samples and were selected for the study “because of their impressive olfactory system and because they are also relatively small, calm, highly trainable, and highly sociable.”

The results: all the three beagles were “able to correctly identify the cancer samples with a sensitivity of 96.7%, specificity of 97.5%, positive predictive value of 90.6%, and negative predictive value of 99.2%.”

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is responsible for most cancer deaths worldwide and early detection is the best opportunity for survival.

The findings of the study “provide a starting point for a larger-scale research project designed to explore the use of canine scent detection as a tool for cancer biomarkers,” the researchers concluded.

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