Innovative Cancer Screening Uses Labrador to Detect Bowel Cancer

In Japan, researchers have found that it is possible for a Labrador retriever to ‘sniff out’ cancer – bowel cancer was detected by a dog from breath and stool samples with a very high degree of accuracy.

black labrador - the cancer snifferThe dog trained to sniff out bowel cancer, was used by Hideto Sonoda at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan. The dog’s diagnosis is as accurate as performing a colonoscopy, it is being claimed.

The female lab was made to perform “sniff tests” of breath and stool samples of people in various stages of bowel cancer, and others who had either had bowel cancer in the past, or who did not have it at all. This is due to a certain odor that cancer cells are known to give out.

The degree of accuracy in detecting the presence or absence of tumors was remarkable and showed 95% accuracy in detecting problems including cancer, polyps, and others such as inflammatory bowel disease, ulcers, diverticulitis, and appendicitis.

This research holds out hope that one day it may be possible to detect cancer using an artificial device, rather like an ‘electronic nose’. While training and using dogs to detect cancer may not be feasible, in the future an artificial sensor for detection could become a reality.