1 February 2011
New research in Japan has shown that dogs could be trained to sniff out bowel cancer.
According to the study, which was published in the journal Gut, Labrador retrievers were capable of recognising bowel cancer in its early stages by smelling the breath or stool samples of sufferers.
Researchers at Kyushu University used an eight year old Labrador - named Marine - to identify patients suffering from bowel cancer.
The dog was able to correctly identify 33 out of 36 cancer patients from breath tests and 37 out of 38 using stool samples.
Dr Hideto Sonoda, lead researcher, said: "It may be difficult to introduce canine scent judgement into clinical practice owing to the expense and time required for the dog trainer and dog education.
He was also concerned about the variability inherent in the results, claiming: "Scent ability and concentration vary between dogs and also within the same dog on different days."
According to Cancer Research, bowel cancer is the third most common form of the potentially-fatal condition.
1 "Colorectal cancer screening with odour material by canine scent detection". Gut. Monday, January 31st 2011.
2 "Cancer incidence for common cancers - UK statistics". Cancer Research UK. 2007.
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