Dogs have smell receptors 10,000 times more accurate than humans', making them highly sensitive to odors we cannot perceive at all. In this case, beagles help us understand more about the fight against cancer.
My beagle mix, Sherman, enjoys a dog sport called K-9 Nosework and his ability to find odors including birch and anise is very impressive. We trained him by pairing these odors with food over time. So it doesn't surprise me at all that dogs are able to detect cancer with high accuracy rates!
According to a press release issued by the research team at BioScentDx that conducted the study,
"Although there is currently no cure for cancer, early detection offers the best hope of survival," said Heather Junqueira, who is lead researcher at BioScentDx and performed the study. "A highly sensitive test for detecting cancer could potentially save thousands of lives and change the way the disease is treated."
The New York Post tells us,
"Janqueira and her team taught four beagles to distinguish between healthy blood samples and those from patients with malignant lung cancer. While one beagle named Snuggles was not interested in playing doctor, the other three dogs were able to identify cancerous samples 96.7 percent of the time."
When it came to normal samples, the canines had an accuracy rate of over 97 percent.
Detection dogs are used for many studies and this research team tells The New York Post that there are general cancer dogs and those trained in specific tumor types: currently breast cancer and lung cancer, and soon to be expanded to include prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and melanoma."
A dog's nose is one of the most valuable tools researchers have when it comes to detecting different types of cancer. The percent accuracy is why man's best friend is literally changing the world.
Methods used by many dog trainers were part of the training protocol. The researchers used a form of clicker training to teach the four beagles to distinguish between normal blood serum and samples from patients with malignant lung cancer.
As a result of this cancer detection study, cancer-sniffing dogs will save the lives of many cancer patients in the future. And thanks to their incredible sense of smell humans can be used as medical detection dogs for humans that have diabetes and epilepsy so they can be alerted before they have a medical crisis or in this case early stage cancer!
Are you interested in learning about more studies involving our canines? Please leave us a comment below!