Lifestyle & Human Interest

Dogs May Now Be the Key to Saving Someone's Life from Lung Cancer


You already know that your dog is amazing, but now we have another reason to admire our furry friends who researchers believe are able to detect cancer by smell.

According to a study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, a team of researchers successfully trained three dogs to sniff out lung cancer.

The dogs, all beagles, were 97 percent accurate in sniffing out lung cancer, the study concluded.

The research team chose lung cancer because it is notoriously difficult to detect early, with symptoms often going unnoticed until the later stages of the cancer’s progression.

“Early detection provides the best opportunity for lung cancer survival; however, lung cancer is difficult to detect early because symptoms do not often appear until later stages,” the study read.

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Over eight weeks, the beagles were trained to identify the difference between blood samples from healthy adults and blood samples from patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer.

If a dog sniffed out cancer, the dog would sit down. If a dog did not detect cancer, he or she would move on to the next sample.

Do you believe a dog could sniff out cancer?

Researchers are hopeful that future technology could be developed that would screen for cancer by smell, modeled after a dog’s incredible olfactory capabilities.

“We’re using the dogs to sort through the layers of scent until we identify the tell-tale biomarkers,” Thomas Quinn, DO, professor at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and lead author on the study, said in a news release published by the American Osteopathic Association.

“There is still a great deal of work ahead, but we’re making good progress.”

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The goal is to eventually develop an over-the-counter product, similar to a pregnancy test, that would allow people to test for cancer.

“Dr. Quinn envisions a device that someone can breathe into and see a color change to indicate a positive or negative finding,” the news release read.

Current lung cancer screenings have proven to be costly, unreliable and inaccessible to many people living in rural or under-served areas. Quinn hopes that his research can improve cancer detection tests.

“Right now it appears dogs have a better natural ability to screen for cancer than our most advanced technology,” Quinn said. “Once we figure out what they know and how, we may be able to catch up.”

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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