New Study Uses Dogs for Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer
August 12, 2013 8:53 AM
Scientists hope to create an electronic sensor that can mimic the dogs cancer detecting capability
Cancer researchers are working hard to develop new methods of detecting cancer earlier to help improve the outcome for patients. Dogs are without question “man’s best friend”, and researchers are now looking to put their keen sense of smell to good use by detecting ovarian cancer. Scientists involved in the study are working on early detection device that combines an animal's sense of smell, chemical analysis, and other modern technology to help improve survival rates for patients with
Researchers involved in the study are using blood and tissue samples donated by patients and animals provided by the University of Pennsylvania's Working Dog Center. Three dogs are being trained to sniff out the signature compound that indicates the presence of ovarian cancer.
If the dogs are able to smell and isolate the chemical marker, scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center hope to work to create an
electronic sensor that is able to identify the chemical smell
the dogs detect.
Ovarian cancer often goes undetected in humans until it is in its vary late stages of development, often to the detriment of the patient. Part of the reason for the late detection is the generic symptoms that often accompany the disease: weight gain, constipation, and bloating.
Doctors say when ovarian cancer is caught early, the five-year survival rate for women is 90 percent. However, roughly 70 percent of ovarian cancer cases are identified after the cancer has spread, leading to a five-year survival rate of less than 40 percent.
Researcher Doctor Leonard Litchtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, says that the use of canines for detecting certain types of cancer shown promise but there have been no major breakthroughs in the field yet.
"We're still looking to see whether something could be developed and be useful in routine patient care, and we're not there yet," Lichtenfeld cautioned.
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