Canine cancer detection

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Canine cancer detection is an approach to cancer screening that relies upon the olfactory ability of dogs to detect very low concentrations of the alkanes and aromatic compounds generated by tumors.


Although the first suggestion of this approach in a medical journal dates back to 1989,[1] there were only occasional publications on the subject in the next decade.[2]

However, two studies (one published in 2004[3][4][5] and one in 2006) had promising results, with the 2006 report claiming a 99% accuracy in detecting lung cancer,[6] although both studies were preliminary and involved small numbers of patients.

In a 2011 study, lung cancer was identified with a sensitivity of 71% and a specificity of 93%.[7] Other studies have found promising results.[8]


There are two proposed benefits, assuming that further studies corroborate the initial results.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Williams H, Pembroke A (1989). "Sniffer dogs in the melanoma clinic?". Lancet 1 (8640): 734. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(89)92257-5. PMID 2564551. 
  2. ^ Church J, Williams H (2001). "Another sniffer dog for the clinic?". Lancet 358 (9285): 930–930. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(01)06065-2. PMID 11575380. 
  3. ^ Willis CM, Church SM, Guest CM et al. (2004). "Olfactory detection of human bladder cancer by dogs: proof of principle study". BMJ 329 (7468): 712–0. doi:10.1136/bmj.329.7468.712. PMC 518893. PMID 15388612. 
  4. ^ USA Today - "Study shows dogs able to smell cancer"
  5. ^ CBS News - "Dogs Can Smell Cancer"
  6. ^ McCulloch M, Jezierski T, Broffman M, Hubbard A, Turner K, Janecki T (2006). "Diagnostic accuracy of canine scent detection in early- and late-stage lung and breast cancers". Integrative cancer therapies 5 (1): 30–9. doi:10.1177/1534735405285096. PMID 16484712. 
  7. ^ Ehmann R, Boedeker E, Friedrich U, et al. (August 2011). "Canine scent detection in the diagnosis of lung cancer: Revisiting a puzzling phenomenon". Eur Respir J 39 (3): 669–76. doi:10.1183/09031936.00051711. PMID 21852337. 
  8. ^ "Dogs Smell Cancer in Patients' Breath, Study Shows". National Geographic News. 12 January 2006. Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  9. ^ Lung cancer 'colour breath test' at BBC

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