Dogs can detect bowel cancer even in the early stages just by smelling the breath or stool of a patient, according to a Japanese study published in January in the journal Gut. The findings could help researchers identify the chemical compounds that dogs detect, and use them to make current diagnostic methods more effective.
Dogs are known for their amazing noses, and previous studies have suggested they can sniff out a variety of cancers of the skin, lungs, breasts, ovaries and bladder. Several dog breeds have been taught to identify prostate cancer, usually requiring just a whiff of a person’s breath to identify the disease, the researchers said.
The promise of the dog-based cancer detection research is to identify volatile, or easily able to vaporize, compounds given off by cancer. Previous research has indicated a few compounds of interest, and the next step is to test those compounds both with chemical analysis and cancer-sniffing canines.