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Trained Labrador Can Sniff Out Colon Cancer, Researchers Say
Date:2/1/2011

ay the canine's evaluation of breath samples was accurate 95 percent of the time and her stool sample evaluation was accurate 98 percent of the time, compared with colonoscopy, which is the "gold standard" for identifying colon cancer.

In fact, the dog was able to identify cancers even when smokers and people with other stomach problems were included in the test, the researchers noted.

The tests were repeated three times, Sonoda said. "The results of all tests were correct, thereby suggesting that a specific cancer scent indeed exists," he said.

The researchers also took breath and stool samples from patients with breast, stomach and prostate cancer. "Canine scent judgment yielded correct answers for these cancers as well, suggesting that common scents may exist among various cancer types," Sonoda said.

While dogs seem to be able to pick-up the "smell" of cancer, using dogs as a screening tool is not the ultimate goal, he said.

Scent ability and concentration vary between different dogs and also with the same dog on different days, Sonoda pointed out. "Moreover, each dog can only conduct tests for a maximum of 10 years. So it is difficult to introduce canine scent judgment into clinical practice," he said.

For these reasons, it is necessary to identify the cancer-specific organic compounds detected by dogs and to develop an early cancer detection sensor that can be substituted for a dog's judgment, Sonoda said.

"We hope that the results of the present study will provide encouragement for the development of cancer detection and solving the biological character of cancer using odor material," he said.

Commenting on the study, Dr. Ted Gansler, director of medical content at the American Cancer Society, said that "this study adds to a small number of other published articles showing similar results regarding bladder, lung and breast cancers," and to a recent conference presentation regarding prostate cancer.

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