Dogs to sniff out cancer in UK trial

Dogs to sniff out cancer in UK trial

Dogs have been approved for use in a trial by UK's National Health Service (NHS) to detect cancer based on the tumour's odour as a new innovative method to spot the disease in its early stages.

The charity Medical Detection Dogs has gained approval from Milton Keynes University Hospital for further trials, after an initial study showed specially trained dogs can detect prostate tumours in urine in 93 per cent of cases.

Iqbal Anjum, a consultant urologist at the hospital, said the study was "an extremely exciting prospect".

He added: "Over the years there have been many anecdotal reports suggesting that dogs may be able to detect cancer based on the tumour's odour. It is assumed that volatile molecules associated with the tumour would be released into the person's urine, making samples easy to collect and test."

Canine testing could help show up inaccuracies in the traditional Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test, used to determine if men need a biopsy. The test has a high "false positive" rate, and many men are unnecessarily referred for the invasive procedure, The Guardian reported.

Interestingly, Medical Detection Dogs was co-founded in 2008 by Dr Claire Guest, who was the training director of the first study programme to train dogs to identify cancer and experienced the apparent ability of canines when her dog made her aware she was suffering from breast cancer in 2009.

Guest said the incident gave her the "impetus to really believe this could be life-changing for people".

She said that Britain has one of the worst rates of early cancer detection in Europe and that the NHS needs to be bolder about introducing new innovative methods to detect cancer in its early stages.

"Our dogs have higher rates of reliability than most of the existing tests. We know their sense of smell is extraordinary. They can detect parts per trillion - that's the equivalent of one drop of blood in two Olympic-sized swimming pools.

"We should not be turning our backs on these highly sensitive bio-detectors just because they have furry coats," she said.

Two charities, the Graham Fulford Charitable Trust and the Prostate Cancer Support Group, have said they are interested in rolling out the diagnostic service once the trial is complete.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)