Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Best Friend

The notion of "man's best friend" climbed to new heights for me today when I read here about the report of findings set for publication in the March issue of the journal, Integrative Cancer Therapies. It seems researchers are now finding substantiation for what has been previously thought no more than an anecdotal belief that dogs could smell cancer. The stats are impressive. Here is part of the story:

"In this study, five household dogs were trained within a short 3-week period to detect lung or breast cancer by sniffing the breath of cancer participants. The trial itself was comprised of 86 cancer patients (55 with lung cancer and 31 with breast cancer) and a control sample of 83 healthy patients. All cancer patients had recently been diagnosed with cancer through biopsy-confirmed conventional methods such as a mammogram, or CAT scan and had not yet undergone any chemotherapy treatment. During the study, the dogs were presented with breath samples from the cancer patients and the controls, captured in a special tube. Dogs were trained to give a positive identification of a cancer patient by sitting or lying down directly in front of a test station containing a cancer patient sample, while ignoring control samples. Standard, humane methods of dog training employing food rewards and a clicker, as well as assessment of the dog's behavior by observers blinded to the identity of the cancer patient and control samples, were used in the experiment.

The results of the study showed that dogs can detect breast and lung cancer with sensitivity and specificity between 88% and 97%. The high accuracy persisted even after results were adjusted to take into account whether the lung cancer patients were currently smokers. Moreover, the study also confirmed that the trained dogs could even detect the early stages of lung cancer, as well as early breast cancer."

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1 comment:

Brenda said...

This is beautiful! Dogs truly are amazing. I have a Springer Spaniel and, really just wow. It shouldn't surprise me that they can smell cancer. Or that they can be taught to indicate it. That cancer has a smell is mind blowing too. Thanks for posting this! xo