Posted on Jul 18, 2019, 5 p.m.
Soon oncologists looking for a highly accurate and inexpensive way to diagnose lung cancer may not have to look much further than an adorable dog, as a new study has found that beagles are capable of successfully detecting lung cancer by scent which is a significant breakthrough in identifying specific biomarkers of the disease.
This work may one day lead to affordable, effective, and safe mass cancer screening alternatives in the future according to American Osteopathic Association researchers. Beagles are known to have an exceptionally enhanced sense of smell, as such the canines were able to differentiate between blood serum samples taken from healthy participants and malignant lung cancer patients with an incredible 97% accuracy.
“We’re using the dogs to sort through the layers of scent until we identify the tell-tale biomarkers,” says lead author Thomas Quinn, professor at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, in a statement. “There is still a great deal of work ahead, but we’re making good progress.”
As published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association the beagles are now entering another portion of training and study that will involve other cancers such as breast, lung, and colorectal cancer from patients’ breath samples. According to the researchers this study may be the first step in developing an over the counter screening test that may be able to detect cancer early enough to be treated.
“Right now it appears dogs have a better natural ability to screen for cancer than our most advanced technology,” says Quinn. “Once we figure out what they know and how, we may be able to catch up.”
Lung cancer is a leading cause of cancer death around the globe, more than 200,000 Americans are diagnosed with lung cancer every year.
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