BY BOB HOLT
It turns out the best doctor in the world may not be as successful at identifying a cancer patient as their best friend.
An Austrian study has found that dogs are able to smell a lung cancer patient from their breath.
Lead study author Peter Errhalt from a hospital in Austria said the test saw dogs sniff 120 breath samples, and their success rate at picking out those with lung cancer was 70 percent, according to AFP. Errhalt said the results would now lead to a ten times larger study over two years.
According to Newser, the hope is that a form of “electronic nose” that would identify similar smells could be developed to spot the cancer in its earliest stages.
WebMD reported in 2011 that a similar study by German researchers saw two German shepherds, an Australian shepherd, and a Labrador retriever smell the cancer in 71 of 100 samples taken from lung cancer patients. The dogs even smelled 400 breath samples without cancer, and were only incorrect on about 7 percent of the cases.
The German scientists believe the dogs smelled disease by sniffing small changes in chemical matter called volatile organic compounds found in the body.
Human breath has 4,000 of these compounds. Some researchers say a dog’s sense of smell is 100 to 1,000 times stronger than a human’s.