Dogs Can Detect Colon Cancer in Early Stages

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According to a study published on January 31 in the journal Gut, dogs can detect bowel cancer in the early stages by smelling either the breath or stool of a patient.

These findings, courtesy of tests conducted by Japanese researchers, go a long way in presenting an alternative process of finding colon cancer to the generally accepted methods. While this new study has been well-received, dog-based cancer detection is recognized as being too expense and complicated to work long-term with a large group.

"In the future, studies designed to identify cancer-specific volatile organic compounds will be important for the development of new methods for the early detection of CRC [colorectal cancer]," the researchers wrote.

According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer of the large intestine or the lower region of the colon -- otherwise known as colorectal cancer -- is the fourth most common form of the disease found in men and women.

Dogs -- whose noses have long since been recognized as marvelous tools for their ability to sniff various things out -- detecting cancer isn’t as new as one would think. In fact, certain breeds of dogs have already been taught to identify prostate, skin, lung, breast, ovaries and bladder cancer. Usually, these dogs can pick up on the disease simply by catching a sniff of the person’s breath, stool or urine.

This most recent study featured researchers collecting samples from 48 patients who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, 203 people without the disease and 55 people with a history of cancer.

After collecting samples from all of the test subjects, an 8-year-old Labrador retriever sniffed the samples and attempted to sit in front of samples containing cancerous elements.

Researchers found that the dog was 91 percent accurate with cancerous breath samples and 97 percent accurate with cancerous stool samples. Furthermore, the dog ignored 99 percent of the cancer-free breath and stool samples.

While the findings are remarkable and very interesting, the cost of teaching a dog to sniff out cancer in patients is far too time-consuming and expensive. Thus, don’t expect pooches to replace the usual cancer tests any time soon.

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