Researchers at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan have some interesting results from studying man’s best friend’s ability to help sniff out colon cancer. Researchers wanted to verify how accurate at detecting cancer was “Marine”, an 8 year old Black Lab who has been training since 2005 to become a cancer sniffing dog. The researchers compared breath and watery stool samples from people with known cancer against a control group that did not have cancer. The tests ran as such, Marine(the dog) would take a sniff of a known cancer sample and then have to find the corresponding sample at various stations the researchers had setup. When she found the station she felt matched the scent of the cancer she would lie down in front of it & an assistant would note down which sample the dog chose.The results of the test are pretty astounding as the accuracy of the dog’s choices were 97%, compared to 70% for the blood in stool test. She was just as good at detecting early stage colon cancer as she was with advanced colon cancer. Not only is she useful for colon cancer but initial results from some earlier tests suggest dogs might be useful in sniffing out a whole range of cancers such as breast, lung, pancreatic, prostate, uterine, ovarian, bladder and other cancers as well! This is possible because it appears that cancers emit certain chemical compounds that end up in the breath or stool, dogs with their keen and accurate sense of smell can pick these chemicals out better than humans.
Overall this seems like a more worthwhile use of our animals friends than having them pick our Superbowl or World Cup winners. Also this isn’t the first great achievement for “Marine” the Black Lab, earlier in her life she had been trained to be a water rescue dog. Cancer sniffing is just another achievement in her prestigious career. I award her the first ever “Digestion Blog Golden Tennis Ball Of Excellence Award”.