News headlines from across the world have reported on a new study where dogs were able to detect lung cancer in humans by sniffing human breath. The research was conducted in a German hospital and reported in the European Respiratory Journal. The test involved 110 healthy people, 60 patients with lung cancer and 50 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Each person was asked to breathe into a fleece filled tube which absorbed the smell of the person's breath.
Four dogs including two German Shepherds, an Australian Shepherd and a Labrador were trained to detect lung cancer by smelling the tubes and sitting down in front of those which had the smell of lung cancer. The dogs were successful 71% of the time picking up lung cancer and correctly identified 93% of the cancer free samples. The scientists are still a long way away from understanding exactly what compounds are being detected by the dogs and the accuracy of the detection abilities.
In other studies, dogs have also demonstrated an ability to sniff bowel cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer and type 1 diabetes.