Early Detection of Lung Cancer Using Sniffer Dogs


A new research study published in the European Respiratory Journal concluded that early lung cancer in patients may be identified using sniffer dogs. Lung cancer is difficult to detect at an early stage when survival rates are higher so this finding could save lives.

The study assessed whether of not sniffer dogs could identify a VOC (volitile organic compound) in the breath of lung cancer patients. A series of studies were carried out to determine whether or not dogs could reliably identify lung cancer compared with volunteers with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or healthy individuals. Dogs were specifically trained and 220 volunteers who were healthy or had lung cancer or COPD were used. Dogs successfully identified 71 lung cancer samples out of a possible 100, and 372 samples out of a possible 400 who did not have lung cancer. They also detected lung cancer independently of COPD and tobacco smoke. Thus the researchers concluded that results confirmed that there is a lung cancer marker that is independent of COPD and also detectable in the presence of tobacco smoke. More research is planned to identify the specific compounds observed in the exhaled breath of patients.

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