ROCK — Man’s best friend may have just graduated to
oncologist’s best colleague.
of Arkansas medical researchers have revealed a new study
finding that scent-trained dogs can be used to detect thyroid
cancer — with about 90 percent accuracy.
study, spearheaded by Arny Ferrando, Ph.D. and Dr. Andrew
Hinson, both of the University of Arkansas for Medical
Sciences, presented their results to the Endocrine Society
recently in San Diego. The doctors claim that while similar
research has been done into the medicinal uses of a dog’s
powerful sense of smell, their study was the first to go this
we have done, no one has attempted to do," Ferrando said
in a statement. "We have taken the next step by asking
the dog to tell us whether or not cancer exists before the
medical diagnostic system does."
explained the point of the study was to discover whether
doctors can use dogs to help diagnose cancer, specifically in
areas where expensive medical testing and technologies aren’t
trial saw several dogs presented with urine samples from
thyroid cancer patients — a mix of benign and malignant
cases — then asked them to indicate whether each still had
cancer or not. Based on a series of trained actions, the dogs
would indicate their findings to the researchers.
used in the study were strays who had been trained in scent
pooches were accurate in 30 of 34 cases, or about 88 percent
of the time. According to BBC News, the dogs gave two false
positives and two erroneous clearances.
all looked at it from a skeptical, scientific standpoint, but
the data just keeps leading us to the fact that this has
remarkable clinical potential," Ferrando said of the
to BBC News, British cancer researchers said using dogs to
detect cancer would be "impractical."
Ferrando and Hinson, the research will continue. Ferrando said
the method could be used to diagnose other cancers like
ovarian, breast and prostate. His team’s next plan is to
work with researchers at Auburn University’s Canine
Performance Sciences program to test dogs that were bred
specifically for scent detection.