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Dogs Sniff Out Breast Cancer With 100 Percent Accuracy

Mar 27, 2017 05:40 AM EDT

Now that's a good boy! Dogs excelled in a unique clinical trial that taught them to detect breast cancer with surprisingly accurate and promising results.

According to a report from Medical Xpress, researchers trained German Shepherds Thor and Nykios to identify the presence of breast cancer by simply sniffing a piece of cloth that has come into contact with the breast of a woman with a tumor.

"There is technology that works very well, but sometimes simpler things, more obvious things, can also help," Amaury Martin of the Curie Institute said. "Our aim was see if we can move from conventional wisdom to... real science, with all the clinical and research validation that this entails."

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Project Kdog is simple, non-invasive and remarkably affordable, working around the assumption that breast cancer has a specific scent that dogs' impressive sense of smell can detect. The team used pieces of cloth that touched the affected breast of 31 different sample patients.

Then, the team enlisted the help of canine specialist Jacky Experton to train Thor and Nykios to differentiate the cancerous bandages from the non-cancerous ones. For six months, the group used trianing methods of "game-playing" and reward-based.

Finally, the pair of German Shepherds were tested for a series of days in January and February. A different set of 31 bandages were used in the tests than the ones the dogs were trained on. The bandages were placed in cones that the canines can stick their noses into. There were four boxes per test: one cancerous and three non-cancerous.

The team conducted two rounds with the first one resulting in a 90 percent success rate and the second round getting an impressive 100 percent. Next steps for the project will involve a clinical trial that incudes more patients and additional dogs.

This inventive technique of spotting cancer is geared to benefit countries with limited access to mammograms and other medical equipment.

"In these countries, there are oncologists, there are surgeons, but in rural areas often there is limited access to diagnostics," project leader Isabelle Fromantin pointed out in an interview with journalists in Paris. "If this works, we can roll it out rapidly."

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