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Cancer-detecting dogs could be coming to a hospital near you

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: cancer, dogs, health news

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(NaturalNews) Emerging cancer screening methods could soon be as simple as asking your best furry friend if you have the disease. Japanese researchers have published a study in the British Medical Journal which claims that cancer cells actually emit some kind of unique scent from the body, and that dogs can be trained to detect it.

Dr. Hideto Sonoda from Kyushu University explains that a "specific cancer scent does indeed exist and that cancer-specific compounds may be circulating throughout the body." Such a scent can be present in a person's breath or even in his or her feces, both of which can be detected by dogs.

Sonoda and his team presented a labrador retriever with various breath and stool samples from over 300 volunteers. Forty-eight of the volunteers had known bowel cancer, and certain others had previously recovered from the disease. The double-blind test revealed that 95 percent of the time, the dog was successfully able to identify cancer in the breath samples. And 98 percent of the time, it was able to detect cancer in the feces.

"We used the excellent ability of dogs to distinguish between different scents to examine whether odor material can be used in the diagnosis of colorectal cancer," said Sonoda. "This study represents the first step towards the development of an early detection system using odor materials from patients with colorectal cancer."

Sonoda says that the dog's ability to detect the cancer samples with high accuracy proves that a unique odor compound is definitely present in cancer patients. He and the team's next step is to identify that compound and work on improved detection methods, including potentially using trained dogs at medical facilities. But he admits that a substitute cancer detection sensor similar to the type found in dogs is likely a more feasible approach.

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