New Study Finds Dogs Can Sniff Out Cancer with 97% Accuracy

We’ve all read amazing stories about dogs with untrained noses that were somehow able to sniff out their owners’ cancers. Now, a study proves conclusively that dogs really do have this remarkable ability and can detect cancer in human blood with nearly perfect accuracy.

Dogs have smell receptors that are 10,000 times more accurate than those of humans. Those†300 million sensory receptors allow them to smell many odors we humans simply can’t. Researchers at BioScentDX, a canine scent-based cancer detection company in Florida, recently tested the accuracy of†those receptors when it comes to sniffing out lung cancer.

“Although there is currently no cure for cancer, early detection offers the best hope of survival,” said Heather Junqueira, the study’s lead researcher. “A highly sensitive test for detecting cancer could potentially save thousands of lives and change the way the disease is treated.”

Using clicker training, the researchers trained four beagles to tell the difference between normal blood samples and samples from patients with malignant lung cancer. Three of the dogs were able to sniff out the cancer with 96.7 percent accuracy and the normal blood with 97.5†percent accuracy. The fourth dog, named Snuggles, chose not to participate.

This study’s findings, presented this month at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, could lead to early cancer detection methods that are more effective and less invasive than what’s currently available. Using dogs themselves to detect cancer is one possibility, Junqueira said, as is determining what compounds the dogs are detecting and then creating cancer screening tests based on those compounds.

BioScentDX is currently conducting another study to see how well dogs can detect breast cancer in the breath of participants.

A 2011 study in Germany found that dogs can detect lung cancer†with 71†percent accuracy†just by sniffing someone’s breath. This ability is already being put to good use in Canada, where dogs are sniffing out early stages of cancers in firefighters.

As Care2 writer s.e. smith noted in March 2017, these dogs are family pets who have been trained to detect cancers in breath samples submitted by firefighters. If more than one dog reacts to the sample, the firefighter is asked to provide another one and to seek medical help.

Dogs can also use their incredible sense of smell to help people with other serious health issues. For example, a study published last month in the journal “Scientific Reports” discovered for the first time that people with epilepsy emit a distinct odor when they’re having a seizure. Dogs can be trained to detect that odor and may be able to sense seizures before they progress, allowing the person to take medication to prevent it.

Previous studies have found that dogs can sniff out malaria with 70†percent accuracy, which could help eradicate this deadly but curable disease. They†can also detect dangerous changes in the blood sugar levels of people with diabetes.

This latest study proves what many of us already know: dogs truly are man’sóand woman’sóbest friend.

Photo credit: BioScentDX

50 comments

Melisa B
Melisa Byesterday

thanks for posting this

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Richard M
Richard M2 days ago

Dogs are wonderful. I will echo the sentiment of many of the comments and hope that they are being treated well. Sadly, too often we humans use dogs and other animals for our own benefit without any consideration of their quality of life. They are sharing their gift with us and we should provide them with a caring environment and treat them well.

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Michael Friedmann

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

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HEIKKI R
HEIKKI R4 days ago

thank you

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Moira H
Moira H4 days ago

" The fourth dog, named Snuggles, chose not to participate." - Love that line but let's hope Snuggles wasn't eliminated. Hope he and his pals are being treated with the love, care and respect they deserve!

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Sherri S
Sherri S5 days ago

Dogs are amazing!!!

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Donna T
Donna T5 days ago

thank you

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heather g
heather g5 days ago

never a truer word said : "dogs truly are man’s—and woman’s—best friend." By all means, use dogs for medical detection work - just don't lock them away in cages inside labs,

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Naomi Dreyer
Naomi Dreyer6 days ago

Alea C (below ) shows the dark side of this wonderful aability.

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Debbi W
Debbi W6 days ago

I've know for at least two decades that dogs can detect cancer if people. I would love to have a beagle who could do that. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all dogs could do it? Everyone with a dog would have a live in specialist. Early detection is the best defense against cancer.

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