Meet Doctor Fido-Dogs That Can Sniff Colon Cancer

The notion that dogs can sniff danger is not a new one, but researchers in Japan say that this ability includes the ability to detect colon cancer by sniffing it.  A Labrador retriever sniffed out the disease in stool so accurately that the dog’s diagnosis almost always matched that of a the more invasive colonoscopy.  The results are a first step toward a means of developing an early detection system for colon cancer

Dogs have been helping owners with diabetes to sense through smelling breath times when blood sugar levels are low, and encouraging owners to check their blood sugar and treat themselves.

They’ve also been used as service dogs for seizure patients, with the ability to detect subtle behavioral changes and special odors that emitted before patients have a seizure.

Dogs have so many million more sensor cells than humans in their noses that send messages to their brain.  With regard to cancer, researchers have started looking at canine sniff tests for melanoma, as well as prostate, bladder, lung, breast, and ovarian cancer.

So the researchers decided to look at dogs’ detection power in colon and rectal cancer  as well. They took breath and stool samples from colorectal cancer patients at a hospital in Japan and compared them with those of healthy controls.

The Labrador retriever, trained in scent detection of cancer, smelled each sample group and sat down in front of the sample in which it detected the scent of cancer.

Bottom Line: Dogs keen sense of smell can be huge assistance in the future for diagnosing various disease states such as colon cancer.  This gives new meaning to the word “sit”

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