In 2003 John Church brought together a team of doctors, dog trainers and scientists. In 2004 a preliminary proof of principle study was completed. This was published in the British Medical Journal (Willis CM, Church SM, Guest CM, Cook WA, McCarthy N, Bransbury A, Church MRT, Church JCT. Olfactory detection of human bladder cancer by dogs: proof of principle study. BMJ 2004 329: 712.) The study provided the first proof that dogs could identify a unique odour or ‘odour signature’ that was associated with cancer. This was the first clinically robust trial to be completed and published in the world.
First and foremost Medical Detection Dogs can advance research into the early diagnosis of cancer. It is well known that early diagnosis would save countless lives and so benefit the public hugely. Research is the only way of finding an answer. Find out more about this wonderful new initiative by watching the video below…
Can the Power of Scent be used to Detect Cancer?
A new study from Germany, reported in Aug 2011 European Respiratory Journal, has found that sniffer dogs can help physicians make early yet reliable detections of lung cancer in patients.
The test involved 50 healthy people and 25 patients with confirmed cases of lung cancer and another 50 with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). The patients ranged across the stages from I to IV. Test went in phases in which the dogs, all household pets, were first trained then introduced to samples for training.
After they were trained to lie down & sniff the samples the real test was administered. The dogs showed 71% success rate in detecting lung cancer, with the stage of the cancer having little effect on the success rate.
Researches acknowledge that dogs are limited and cannot convey what kind of cancer they are detecting, but the research does hold promise of the development of electronic tests that can identify maker chemicals in the patient’s breath. Figuring out what those markers are is the next step.
More research is needed to determine what compounds the dogs have been detecting. Previous studies have shown that dogs, with then sharp sense of smell, can identify patients with certain types of cancer especially lung and colon cancers.
Canine Scent in the Diagnosis of ERJ
Canine Scent Detection Programs
California's Pine Street Foundation found dogs identified people with lung and breast cancer by sniffing proteins in their breath.
The foundation ran a trial involving 86 patients with cancer and 83 without and found dogs could identify the cancer patients with an 88-97% accuracy range.
University of Oklahoma researcher Dr Patrick McCann, inspired by the dog cancer research, is developing a test using infrared lasers to detect cancer markers on a patient's breath.
Canine Scent Detection of Lung and Breast Cancers in Integrative Cancer Therapies (March 2006, Vol. 5, No 1; pp. 1-10)
NB: There were no conflicts of interest for any study authors. All dogs were treated in a humane and safe manner, consistent with professional dog clicker training. None of the dogs were pets of any of the investigators, trainers, or handler.
Ovarian Cancer – Early Diagnosis Project
Ovarian cancer is the 5th leading cause of cancer death in women. Early diagnosis is the most important step toward reducing morbidity and mortality from ovarian cancer (e.g., from less than 10% in late stage cancer to greater than 90% survival rate for early detection).
This innovative project will focus specifically on detecting ovarian cancer through analysis of exhaled breath, leading the way towards a truly non-invasive way to diagnose ovarian cancer. A major step forward in this study is that breath analysis will be conducted both with trained dogs at the Pine Street Foundation and with sophisticated analytical chemistry at laboratories in Maine.