Life is Going to the Dogs

In Paris recently, medical researchers found dogs detect cancer from a piece of cloth, which had only touched the breast of a woman with a tumor.  With only six months of training, a pair of German Shepherds became 100-percent accurate in a role of breast cancer spotters.  The technique is simple, non-invasive and cheap.  It will revolutionize cancer detection in countries where mammograms are not available or well analyzed.

“In these countries, there are oncologists, there are surgeons, but in rural areas often there is limited access to diagnostics,” says Isabelle Fromantin, who leads project Kdog, told journalists in Paris.  This means people arrive too late to receive life-saving treatment.  She noted: “If this works, we can roll it out rapidly,” and of course at a fraction of the cost of  X-Ray machines and the trained personnel for them.

In a recent study working on the assumption breast cancer cells have a distinguishing smell which sensitive, trained dog noses will recognize, the team collected samples from 31 cancer patients.  They were pieces of bandage that patients had held against affected breasts.

With the help of canine specialist Jacky Experton, the team trained German Shepherds Thor and Nykios to recognize known cancerous rags from non-cancerous ones.  The dogs were put to the test over several days in January and February this year.

In one test the researchers used 31 bandages from different cancer patients than the dogs had been trained on.  One bandage was used per patient, along with three samples from women with no cancer.

Each bandage was placed in a box with a large cone which the dogs could stick their noses into, sniffing each in turn. There were four boxes per test. The exercise was repeated once with each sample, meaning there were 62 responses from the dogs in all.  In the first round, the dogs detected 28 out of the 31 cancer patient bandages, a 90.3 percent hit rate.  This is better than  X-Ray machines with trained operator/analysts.  In the second trial, the dogs scored 100 percent!

The next step will be a clinical trial with more patients and two dogs, but the team is still in need of project funding and this is the kind of thing.  This is a case that brings into focus the sincerity of our medical practitioners. Their first response was for medical authorities to ask if one day dogs may be replaced by “sniffing” machines with armies of electronic diagnosticians analyzing samples in a far more expensive process.

The machine people objected that dogs could bite or attack people and have a much higher liability thereby.  We say anyone who has had experience with German Shepherds will confirm they can be trained easily and will not attack people unless they are attacked or taught to attack.  The critical point is that dogs can detect breast cancer sooner, more reliably and at a much lower cost than X-Ray technology.  What they cannot do is pay commissions and kickbacks to hospital administrators or resident physicians and we say that is the problem in much of medicine and the advancement thereof.

There is an interesting development in this area as Rutgers University researcher Dr. John McGann has found humans actually are as sensitive to odors as animals like dogs and mice.  While the olfactory bulb in humans is only 0.01% of the brain mass and 2% in mice, for example, the absolute size is much larger and that should be the critical factor.

Training could perhaps raise people to the same skills, therefore odor differentiation and classification may become part of the medical school diagnosis curriculum.  In the future you should be prepared to be well sniffed by your doctor, which only means there will be long lines of older ladies at doctor’s offices.  You may be surprised to know you were sniffed by your mate even though you were unaware and she may have been too.

The literature says that before a young woman will become intimate with a man she will smell his armpit odor as that expresses the signatures of his immunities.  She wants someone who has a different set from her’s.  Her brother’s will be identical to hers, and she thinks he stinks, but is yours are very different she will like it.  This is Mother Nature’s way of preventing incest at any level.  Mother Nature is not a Muslim.  Your new dating partner is probably not aware of her need, but she will find a way to get her nose or hand in your armpit and if it is her hand she will sniff it.  If you pass she will be smiling.

Nonetheless, for the time being, and for good reason, medicine should be going to the dogs.

Adrian Vance

Adrian Vance is a writer and producer of educational films, filmstrips and audio programs with over 325 productions from script to screen. See a partial list of my credits at http://worldcat.org . And, have written for ten national magazines, been on the masthead of two as an Editor, done a dozen books and am an FCC licensed broadcaster with ten years of on-air experience in radio and television. See my blog, "The Two Minute Conservative" at http://adrianvance.blogspot.com where you will find over 3200 daily pieces, enough material to produce 25 novel length books.

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