Dog successfully sniffs out thyroid cancer

BBC

First, it was prostate cancer. And now one dog successfully sniffs out thyroid cancer too. A research team from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences reveals that a German Shepherd mix named Frankie was able to detect thyroid cancer via urine sample with 88 percent accuracy.

The canine successfully detected 30 out of 34 people with the disease. Two of the four patients that the canine missed were false-negative, while the other two were false-positive results.

If Frankie sniffs a cancer-positive urine, he alerts his handler by lying down. At the time of the test, both the canine and handler were not informed which among the sample population have cancer to prevent bias.

You can’t expect nothing less from a nose that’s 10,000 to 100,000 more potent than that of humans.

According to estimates from the American Cancer Society, out of the 62,450 new cases of cancer in the US last year, 1,950 people died from the disease. Thyroid cancer happens when abnormal cells grow in the butterfly-shaped gland of the neck. The cause is currently unknown but changes in a person’s DNA could play a role.

The dog’s ability sniff out cancer is amazing but don’t expect rampant training of canines for identifying cancer. Researchers are more interested in knowing what chemical Frankie is smelling.

“Carrying out lab tests to understand what the dogs are smelling might help to inform the development of ‘electronic noses’ to detect the same molecules, which could lead to better diagnostic tests in the future,” Dr. Emma Smith of Cancer Research UK told the BBC.

Today, diagnosing thyroid cancer require fine-needle aspiration biopsy, in which a needle is inserted into the thyroid gland to draw out tissues for examination.

BBC
BBC

This isn’t the first time a dog was employed to detect cancer. A study led by Gian Luigi Taverna of the Humanitas Research Hospital in Milan successfully trained two German Shepherds to sniff out prostate cancer with 98 percent accuracy.

Source and image credit: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-31785245

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