We will soon be able to detect cancer using dogs

The goal is to detect cancer in its initial phases

The sooner we can detect cancer, regardless of its type, the easier will be to counter it and the more likely will be to cure it. The disease is progressive and once reached advanced stages, it becomes impossible to cure. Its incidence worldwide is rather scary and there are over 100 known cancer types in humans.

A simplistic definition would characterize this disease as an abnormal cellular growth, which will extend to other organs provided it is left untreated for longer periods of time.

In the late stages, there is little that can be done, because the disease spreads to the skeletal structure, causing, in time, organ failure and death. The best anti-cancer method remains prevention because the treatment is limited by certain factors and it is only effective in a restricted number of cases. Prevention, though, it is effective because it allows avoiding the disease altogether and increasing the subject’s lifestyle considerably.

In the same category, we include early detection as well. There are several early detection methods that will detect cancer in its initial phases before it started to gain ground and reach that point of no return. Depending on the type of the condition, the main detection techniques in use today are:

Breast cancer

The single most effective method to detect the affection as early as possible is mammography. Some pro-life activists claim that this method actually triggers the disease by subjecting the organism to high doses of radiation, a claim which has been proven factually wrong on multiple occasions. Women should undergo at least 1 mammogram every year.

Colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer it encompasses several methods, mainly: flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, double-contrast barium enema, virtual colonoscopy, fecal immunochemical test, stool DNA test. These are needed once every 5 years.

Uterine cancer

The main method is an endometrial biopsy.

Lung cancer

CT-scan based screening is the main procedure used in these cases.

Dogs are about to become the new revolutionary detection tools

As weird as it may seem, dogs can detect cancer in human patients due to the fact that the disease has a smell. The idea is not new since the Medical Detection Dogs association was founded 9 years ago, in 2008.

But it was only recently that the magnitude of the discovery was truly understood. It turns out that this affection has a specific odor that the animals can sense and react to and it could prove to be a life-saving method in the near future.

Following the tests, it has been established that the canines can detect cancer in urine, swabs and even in the patient’s breath and they can do so in a matter of mere minutes.

It is an extremely important method because it is non-invasive, it takes place in just minutes and it serves to detect cancer in the earliest phases of its manifestation. But the real question that could instantly pop into anyone’s head is:

“Do we need dogs to detect cancer? Don’t we have enough methods to serve this purpose?”

The question is yes, we do need dogs. This is because, in the case of diagnosing the prostate cancer, the screening method that is being used misfires in over 75% of the cases, indicating a false positive response, when definitely it is not the case.

The efficiency of the method is precarious, to say the least. And this is not the only classical early detection technique that manifests erroneously. By comparison, the dogs met a 93% success rate, which is phenomenal if you think about it.

It is probably a medical advancement that could save lives in the future. Now, scientists are looking to develop artificial noses, trained to detect cancer with the same accuracy as the dogs’ or even better.

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