A cancer diagnosis requires tests. Lots of tests. Oncologists use highly-expensive methods to diagnose lung cancer in humans. Now, there might be a way to detect the disease by tapping their local Beagle community. Yes, a new study found Beagles can recognize the disease by scent.
A study from the American Osteopathic Association says Beagles’ incredible sense of smell can identify the specific biomarkers of the disease. These dogs are so accurate that researchers believe this discovery could lead to a new type of testing in the future. Instead of expensive tests, the dogs could provide a safe, affordable, and effective cancer screening method.
The study’s lead author, Thomas Quinn, professor at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, said this in a statement: “We’re using the dogs to sort through the layers of scent until we identify the tell-tale biomarkers. There is still a great deal of work ahead, but we’re making good progress.”
All dogs have a powerful sense of smell. However, Beagles’ abilities stand out amongst other dog breeds. In the study, the dogs differentiated between blood serum samples taken from patients suffering from malignant lung cancer and those who were healthy with 97% accuracy. Incredible!
The scientists aren’t stopping with lung cancer. Next up, the Beagles will attempt to sniff out breast and colorectal cancer from a breath sample. What does this mean for everyday consumers? It could be the first step in creating an over-the-counter screening test.
Quinn continued, “Right now it appears dogs have a better natural ability to screen for cancer than our most advanced technology. Once we figure out what they know and how we may be able to catch up.”
You can read the study in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
Another study by BioScentDx, a private health care company in Florida, found similar impressive results.
Co-author Heather Junqueira and her colleagues tested four beagles trained to detect the difference between blood samples from healthy patients and blood samples from patients with lung cancer. One dog wouldn’t perform the test. However, the tree others correctly scented the lung cancer samples 96.7 percent of the time, and the normal samples 97.5 percent of the time.
Color us impressed!
“Although there is currently no cure for cancer, early detection offers the best hope of survival. A highly sensitive test for detecting cancer could potentially save thousands of lives and change the way the disease is treated.” Junqueira, the lead researcher at BioScentDx, said in a statement.
Service dogs help people with physical and emotional needs. Maybe now they’ll provide a new, potentially life-saving, service in the medical field.
Featured image c/o Marcus Wallis on Unsplash