Dogs can smell cancer in blood with astounding accuracy

Dogs are able to smell cancer in the blood of patients with an incredibly high level of success, according to a new study. The ability is due to the very high number of smell receptors dogs have, the same smell receptors that enable them to sniff out bombs and drugs. In this new research, scientists found that dogs could sniff out blood samples from cancer patients with nearly perfect accuracy.

The study was performed by BioScentDx's Heather Junqueira, who found that dogs had around 97-percent accuracy when detecting blood samples taken from healthy and cancer patients. As part of the research, four beagles were trained using a clicker to tell the difference between blood from healthy individuals and blood serum samples from people who had malignant lung cancer.

Sadly, one of the four beagles was described as "unmotivated" to participate in the research, but the other three were able to detect the cancer patients' blood samples in 96.7-percent of cases and the normal blood samples in 97.5-percent of cases. This is a very high level of accuracy that may point toward a future simple, non-invasive, and inexpensive cancer screening test.

BioScentDx plans to use dogs' sniffing abilities to screen for deadly diseases and cancer. The company previously conducted a study involving canines and breath samples from breast cancer patients. Speaking about the latest study, Junqueira said:

This work is very exciting because it paves the way for further research along two paths, both of which could lead to new cancer-detection tools. One is using canine scent detection as a screening method for cancers, and the other would be to determine the biologic compounds the dogs detect and then design cancer-screening tests based on those compounds.