Canine Cancer Detectors May Hold Key to Earlier Diagnosis

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Cancer detection tests have gone to the dogs—at least in one German study.

As reported by Time magazine, a recent study has been published in the European Respiratory Journal, extolling the talents of pooches as lung-cancer detectors.

When presented with human breath samples in tubes that were lined with material designed to catch odors, the four dogs in the study had a 93% accuracy rate in recognizing people who were cancer-free and a 71% rate in recognizing those who had lung cancer.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that currently, 56% of those diagnosed with lung cancer have already reached the metastatic stage of the disease. Once they reach this stage they only have a 3.6% survival rate after five years.

The study authors hope that their research eventually will help physicians detect lung cancer earlier, when it is most treatable. They said that the dogs were clearly detecting something different in the breath of people who had cancer and were probably honing in on certain volatile organic compounds. They hope that by identifying these compounds, they will be able to concoct a more accurate lung cancer screening method.

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