-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
THURSDAY, Aug. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Trained sniffer dogs are
able to detect lung cancer in its early stages, researchers have
The dogs could identify volatile organic compounds that are
linked to the presence of cancer on people's breath, according to
the German study. Because those with lung cancer often have no
symptoms and current methods used to detect the disease are
unreliable, the findings are significant, the study authors
In conducting the study, researchers recruited people with lung
cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or no health
problems at all. The specially trained dogs successfully identified
71 out of 100 samples with lung cancer, as well as 372 out of 400
The dogs were also able to distinguish between lung cancer and
COPD as well as tobacco smoke. The researchers concluded there must
be a reliable marker for lung cancer that is different from COPD
and can be detected in the presence of tobacco smoke, food odors
"In the breath of patients with lung cancer, there are likely to be different chemicals to normal breath samples and the dogs' keen sense of smell can detect this difference at an early stage of the disease," study author Thorsten Walles, from Schillerhoehe Hospital in Germany, said in a news release from the European Lung Foundation.
"Our results confirm the presence of a stable marker for lung cancer," Walles added. "This is a big step forward in the diagnosis of lung cancer, but we still need to precisely identify the compounds observed in the exhaled breath of patients. It is unfortunate that dogs cannot communicate the biochemistry of the scent of cancer!"
The study is slated for publication in the
European Respiratory Journal.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
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