Sunday 18 August 2019

Dogs prove successful at sniffing out bowel cancer

spaniel dogDogs being trained to sniff out bowel cancer can already recognise its smell after less than a year in training, the Telegraaf reports on Tuesday.

The five cocker spaniels are being trained by the Royal Dutch Guide Dog Foundation KNGF and have sniffed 380 samples of human faeces including some from patients with bowel cancer. They are already able to pick out the 20 tubes containing faeces from bowel cancer patients in 80% of attempts.

The KNGF is working with the VU medical centre in Amsterdam on this pilot project to train dogs as medical detectives. According to the VU, it is an important step in the early diagnosis of bowel cancer which is discovered in 15,000 people a year.

‘Bowel cancer is mainly diagnosed following a colonoscopy,’ the VU’s professor Henk Verheul says on the KNGF website. ‘This is uncomfortable for the patient and leads to late diagnosis. It would be fantastic if we could use specially trained dogs to search for cancer by sniffing faeces or breath.’

The intention is to train dogs to recognise other forms of cancer in the future.

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