Take a bow-wow: dogs fight bowel cancer

Japanese researchers on Monday reported a "lab" breakthrough: a retriever which can scent bowel cancer in breath and stool samples as accurately as hi-tech diagnostic tools.

The findings support hopes for an "electronic nose" one day that can sniff a tumour at its earliest stages, they said.

Researchers led by Hideto Sonoda at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan, used the specially-trained female black labrador to carry out 74 "sniff tests" over a period of several months.

Each of the tests comprised five breath or stool samples, only one of which was cancerous.

The samples came from 48 people with confirmed bowel cancer at various stages of the disease and 258 volunteers with no bowel cancer or who had had cancer in the past.

They complicated the task for the eight-year-old canine detective by adding a few challenges to the samples.

Around half of the non-cancer samples came from people with bowel polyps, which are benign but are also a possible precursor of bowel cancer.

Six percent of the breath samples, and 10 percent of the stool samples, came from people with other gut problems, such as inflammatory bowel disease, ulcers, diverticulitis, and appendicitis.

The retriever performed as well as a colonoscopy, a technique in which a fibre-optic tube with a camera on the end is inserted into the rectum to look for suspect areas of the intestine.

It correctly spotted which samples were cancerous and which were not in 33 out of 36 breath tests, equal to 95 percent accuracy, and in 37 out of 38 stool tests (98 percent accuracy).

It performed especially well among people with early stage disease, and its skills were not disrupted by samples from people with other types of gut problems.

Previous research has also found that dogs can sniff out bladder, lung, ovarian and breast cancer.

Using dogs as a screening tool is likely to be expensive.

But the success of this experiment backs hopes for developing a sensor that can detect specific compounds, in faecal material or the air, that are linked to cancer.

There is already a non-invasive method for screening for bowel cancer, which looks for telltale traces of blood in a stool sample. But it is only about 10 percent accurate in detecting early-stage disease.

The dog used in the Japanese experiment was initially trained for water rescue in 2003 and then began training as a cancer detector in 2005.

Every time she correctly distinguished a cancer sample, she was allowed to play with a tennis ball.

ri/mh/mb

 

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvSpoiler alert: It has been talked about for months
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - West Midlands - OTE £35,000

    £27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Area Manager is required to ...

    Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - Yorkshire & Humber - OTE £35,000

    £27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Area Manager is required to ...

    Recruitment Genius: Embedded Linux Engineer - C / C++

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A well funded smart home compan...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Engineer - Python / Node / C / Go

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: *Flexible working in a relaxed ...

    Day In a Page

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?