It always fascinates us to hear about the different ways canine talent can be harnessed to help humans. The concept of dogs detecting human cancers is not new but the science of it is still developing.
Screening humans for cancer is expensive and the idea for residents of Kaneyama (Japan) is that they will help the research even further. Nippon Medical School on the outskirts of Tokyo have highly trained sniffer dogs able to detect particular odours specific to cancer cells. The process begins with residents of Kaneyama providing urine samples. Northern parts of Japan have a cancer mortality rate higher than averages in other areas. The detection dogs sniff the samples for an indication of stomach cancer. Incredibly, the dogs have an accuracy of almost 100 percent. This could be used as an early screening process. It is not without it’s own costs with the training of dogs for the trial cost $45K but it is a method allowing large numbers of people to be screened as fast and cheaply as possible.
Because the accuracy detection rate for the dogs is not currently at 100 percent, no-one’s life would be risked on that but it’s an excellent start at being able to promote the urgency of further testing on a number of individuals. It is believed the dogs are able to smell a mixture of gases unique to cancerous cells.
Though we may never see a roaming hospital of canine staff (just as well) it is likely we will only see more of their talents being tapped in the name of medicine. Already they are used to detect the onset of seizures, prostate cancer, diabetes, malaria and Parkinson’s disease.
There is hope for a widespread use of dogs potentially becoming a more reliable predictor of disease than the current conventional methods of testing.
Leah & Angela OMeara
Hound Dog Day Care (Specialists in Dog Minding & Dog Boarding, Pet Sitting Brisbane & Doggy Day Care Brisbane)