A laboratory breakthrough has found that Bowel cancer may be identified in future by dogs. Japanese researchers have found that a dog can scent bowel cancer in breath and stool samples as accurately as high-tech diagnostic tools.
Hideto Sonoda led the research at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan. The testing spanned across several months and involved using the specially- trained female black Labrador to carry out 74 ‘sniff tests’. Each of the tests comprised five breath or stool samples, only one of which was cancerous.
Scientists also included, in the ‘sniff tests’, samples with bowel polyps, which are benign but are also a possible precursor of bowel cancer in an attempt to throw the dog off the scent. Six per cent of the breath samples, and 10 per cent of the stool samples, came from people with other gut problems, such as appendicitis, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcers, and diverticulitis.
The dog’s performance proved as accurate as a colonoscopy, a technique in which a fibre-optic tube with a camera on the end is inserted into the rectum to search for suspect areas of the intestine.
Correctly spotting samples which were cancerous and which were not in 33 out of 36 breath tests, equal to 95 per cent accuracy, and in 37 out of 38 stool tests, the dog performed astoundingly. It also performed well among people with early stage disease, and its skills were not disrupted by samples from people with other types of gut problems.
The use of dogs, although expensive, is welcomed as it is non-invasive and just as accurate as medical procedures.