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Dogs can be trained to detect cancer, study finds

Thursday, 18th August 2011

While they may not know that they need pet meds themselves, dogs are able to work out if we need any medicine, a study has found.

Researchers at the Schillerhoehe Hospital published a study in the European Respiratory Journal that found dogs can sniff out lung cancer.

Participants included 110 healthy people, 60 with lung cancer and 50 with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They breathed into a tube that absorbed smells.

The dogs then sniffed the tubes and sat down in front of the cancerous ones. They were successful in smelling cancer 71 per cent of the time.

Dr Thorsten Walles, the author of the study, said: ""Our results confirm the presence of a stable marker for lung cancer. This is a big step forward.

"Dogs are unlikely to become regular fixtures in doctors surgeries so researchers are working on 'electronic noses' which would be able to detect the same chemical as the dog. This chemical or combination of smells has not yet been found."

Dr Laura McCallum, science information officer at Cancer Research UK added that we are a "long way" from understanding which smell molecules dogs are detecting.