We’ve heard many stories of animals detecting illness in their guardians, but now scientists have found a way to harness this incredible ability to sniff out cancer. How did they do it? — Global Animal
Huffington Post, Dean Praetorius
Scientists have put the incredible smelling powers of a dog to good medical use.
Sniffing out cancer.
Japanese scientists trained a black Labrador Retriever, named Marine, that they say can sniff out colorectal cancer with up to 98 percent accuracy, according to CTV News. Better yet perhaps, her abilities are more accurate than some tests currently used to diagnose the cancer, namely the fecal occult blood test, which accurately predicts the cancer only 10 percent of the time.
This isn’t the first time dogs have been used to diagnose malignancies like this either. The idea has also been used to test for skin, bladder, lung, breast and ovarian cancers as well, according to ABC News.
So how were they able to hone Marine’s predicting abilities?
Previous studies have shown that dogs have the ability to sniff out cancer in patients’ breath, according to National Geographic. Using this idea, the female Lab was trained to sit in front of samples that contained signs of cancer.
Marine was taught to sniff cups of exhaled breath samples and then to sit down in front of the cup that contained the sample from the patient with cancer. When Marine got it right, she was rewarded with a tennis ball.
A dog’s sense of smell is up to 1 million times better than a human being’s according to ABC News. However, not all dogs have the same abilities. “You don’t see bomb-sniffing pugs,” Dr. Marty Becker, a veterinarian at the North Idaho Animal Hospital told ABC. “You’ve got to have pretty robust olfactory capabilities.”