Science/Tech

Dogs Are Able to Sniff Out Lung Cancer

Jack Russell dog
The researchers found that dogs were 70 percent successful at identifying which samples belonged to patients with lung cancer and which did not. Flickr

Fido isn't just man's best friend - he's also a cancer-sniffing machine. That's the finding of one study conducted in Austria, which says that dogs are able to successfully sniff out lung cancer.

The test tasked dogs with sniffing out lung cancer from 120 breath samples. The researchers found that dogs were 70 percent successful at identifying which samples belonged to patients with lung cancer and which did not.

"Dogs have no problem identifying [tumor] patients," Peter Errhalt, the head of the pulmonology department at Krems Hospital and one of the study authors, said to AFP.

In fact, the study was so successful that researchers plan on recreating it, in a two-year study with 10 times the amount of breath samples.

This study did not take place out of the blue. It confirms anecdotal evidence that found that dogs behaved oddly around cancer patients, as well as previous smaller studies, one conducted as recently as 2011 in Germany.

You may not want to trade in your doctor for a dog just yet though - researchers are attempting to make an electronic nose every bit as effective as a canine counterpart.

Scientists hope to identify precisely which scents the creatures are smelling in an effort to capture them as well.

They believe that if they can do so, they can discover new cases of lung cancer earlier - therefore cutting down on deaths.

The study was written by Peter Errhalt, Michael Mueller, and colleagues.

Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer in the United States by far. Men have a 1 in 13 chance of developing the disease; for women, the likelihood is 1 in 16.

The risk for smokers is much higher, though increasing numbers of non-smokers are being diagnosed with the disease in recent years.

This year, there were over 226,000 new cases of lung cancer and about 160,000 deaths.

Loading...