Dogs are widely known to have an extremely sensitive sense of smell. One study has found out that beagles can successfully “sniff out” lung cancer with incredibly high accuracy. Early diagnosis of non-small-cell lung cancer, known as the second most common cancer in the U.S., is crucial since most cancer-related deaths are attributed to this type of cancer. However, common methods of diagnosing lung cancer, such as CT and PET scans, which are not even completely reliable, can be very expensive. A research team led by Prof. Thomas Quinn from Lake Erie College in Pennsylvania trained three beagles to “sniff out” non-small-cell lung cancer in plasma samples. They chose beagles because they have 225 million olfactory receptors, while humans have 5 million. Trained to sit down when they smell cancer and to walk past a healthy person’s sample, the dogs determined the presence of cancer with 97.5 percent specificity and 96.7 percent sensitivity, which translates into extremely high accuracy.
Hanna Jeong Staff Reporter
1. What kind of dogs can sniff out lung cancer?
2. What is the second most common cancer in the U.S.?
3. How were the dogs trained to sniff out cancer?
1. Do you think there are other animals that could help humans more than modern technology?
2. Would you trust a dog to check to see if you have lung cancer?
3. Do you think having dogs sniff out lung cancer is better than using CT and PET scans?
4. What do you think goes through a dog's mind if they sniff out someone with cancer?