PITTSBURGH (KDKA)– Who would have thought that dogs were the key to battling lung cancer cells?

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women every year.

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A recent double-blind study shows that dogs may have the ability to detect early stages of cancer and they may even be more effective than an x-ray or CT scan.

Thomas Quinn, professor at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine said, “Dogs have highly developed olfactory systems and may be able to detect cancer in its primary stages.”

For the study, three beagles were used for testing. They were chosen for their ideal size, level of trainability, and superior olfactory systems.

FILE PHOTO (Photo Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)


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In the first round of the experiment, each dog was given two blood samples. One sample with newly diagnosed cancer cells and another sample without.

This allowed the dogs to differentiate between cancerous and cancer-free blood cells.

If there were no cancer cells detected, the dogs would walk away, but if cancer cells were present the dogs would alert researchers by sitting.

In the second round of testing, the dogs were given samples of patients’ breath that were collected from face masks to identify lung, breast, and colorectal cancer cells.

The three dogs were, “able to correctly identify the cancer samples with a sensitivity of 96.7%, a specificity of 97.5%, the positive predictive value of 90.6%, and negative predictive value of 99.2%”, says The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association

The end-goal was to separate chemical and physical samples to create a product that can screen patients over-the-counter, similar to a take-home pregnancy test, says Dr. Quinn.

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These experiments are just the beginning of what could be a cheap, safe, and effective alternative for cancer screening.