Japanese researchers on Monday reported a “lab” breakthrough: a retriever which can scent bowel cancer in breath and stool samples as accurately as high-tech diagnostic tools.
The findings support hopes for an “electronic nose” one day that can sniff a tumor 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 fiber-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.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete