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Cancer-Sniffing Dogs Are the Most Effective Early Detection Tool

By: Omar Yusuf - Published: Aug 21, 2011 • References: erj.ersjournals and dailymail
In lieu of expensive tests or radio screening, the researchers at Germany's Schillerhoehe Hospital have finished conducting a landmark study that will help diagnose malignant growths in patients by using cancer-sniffing dogs.

After being exhaled into cotton-filled tubes, the breathing samples of 220 volunteers were introduced to a handful of trained dogs, who correctly identified who had the illness and who didn't. The astute observers were two German shepherds, one Labrador Retriever and one Australian Shepherd. After the dogs accurately diagnosed more esoteric diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), it was clear that the olfactory senses of canines have been seriously underestimated. And because there are no early-detection tools, cancer-sniffing dogs are more important now than ever.

Today, only 15 percent of lung cancer patients diagnose the illness before it spreads, reducing their chances of surviving beyond five years to less than 2 percent. Grim stuff -- luckily, we have cute canines on our side!