Monday, February 27, 2006

Thats DOCTOR DOGGIE HAWSER TO YOU DARLIN' !! ;-)

A nose for diagnosis? Pioneering study suggests man's best friend could be cancer's worst foe Trained dogs sniffed out disease better than a CT scan, writes Elaine Carey Jan. 7, 2006. 01:00 AM HEALTHREPORTER Your dog's sniffing habit can get embarrassing at times, but now researchers have found a valuable use for that curious nose � detecting cancer. Ordinary household dogs, given as little as three weeks of training, were able to detect lung and breast cancers even in the earliest stages better than some traditional tests do, says a study released yesterday. In a scientifically supervised trial involving 55 very recently diagnosed lung cancer patients and 31 breast cancer patients, and a control sample of 83 healthy people, dogs were able to detect cancer from breath samples with an accuracy rate of between 88 and 97 per cent. While comparisons are crude, $2.5 million CT scanners have an accuracy rate of between 85 and 90 per cent, according to Cancer Research UK, Britain's biggest cancer investigator. The study was conducted by the Pine Street Foundation, a California-based non-profit that conducts clinical trials on cancer patients, using scientific methods to explore alternatives others dismiss. It's to be published in March in the peer-reviewed journal Integrated Cancer Therapies at the University of Chicago and was analyzed by statisticians at the University of California, Berkeley. Nevertheless, there will be skeptics, acknowledged Nicholas Broffman, founder and executive director of the foundation. "But it would be very difficult for anyone to look at this and say `This is total quackery,�" he said. "It definitely suggests this is a matter worth studying further. "This study has taken up to five years of our life because we knew it was going to be scrutinized, so we took great pains to make sure it was done rigorously," he said. "We really were very diligent to make sure our research was solid." Early detection is key, but lung cancers aren't usually caught early because there is no reliable screening test, and mammograms have a high rate of false positives. "To have a tool that may be able to pick it up at stage-one or pre-stage-one cancer would be extremely valuable," Broffman said. "Something that gives people hope and options is worth pursuing." The foundation is seeking funding for a study that would look at other cancers and include unhealthy patients, to see whether dogs can distinguish cancer from other conditions. "Every study builds on the last one, but in terms of proving the concept, this one does that," Broffman said. Anecdotal evidence has existed since 1989 that dogs have an ability to detect cancer. A British woman that year finally went to a doctor after her dog spent several months sniffing a mole on her leg and tried to bite it off. It turned out to be a malignant melanoma, and was caught early enough to save her life. Another study last year published in the British Medical Journal found dogs were able to detect bladder cancer in urine with a 41 per cent accuracy rate. Although low, that was a rate three times greater than chance. Pine Street, with collaborators in Poland and South Africa, decided to do a double-blind study. Volatile chemical compounds have been isolated in the breath of cancer patients before using gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy, but in concentrations much higher than would be found in an average patient. "But that suggested, if we could get as sensitive as a dog's nose, there was hope it could be detected in early stages," he said. The first dog, in the advance study five years ago, was a poodle from a Toronto-area breeder. "We had two of them and they were so exquisite, and their personalities were so amazing." The current study used three Labrador retrievers and two Portuguese water dogs, 7 to 18 months old, who were trained by being given treats as rewards when they lay down in front of the cancer breath samples. In the double-blind study, not even their handlers knew which samples were from cancer patients, so the dogs had to wait until they left the room to be rewarded. "The study has some interesting merit to it, but my biggest concern is what the public will understand from it," said Dr. Mahmoud Khalifa, director of surgical pathology at Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre. "A woman might think you can get a dog and it will tell her she has breast cancer, but that's not what it's saying at all," he said. In the study, patients were told to breathe very deeply into a sample tube, which is not how people normally breathe, he said. The study also doesn't explore how long the dogs will maintain this ability. A third issue is liability, he said. If a lab makes an error and misses detecting cervical cancer from a Pap smear, it is liable. "But who's going to be liable if a dog misses a case?" he asked. "Obviously, this is something that needs further exploration," he said. "If a woman gets anxious because her dog is reacting and goes to the doctor because of it, then that's okay. If the dog is wrong, there's no harm done. But a false negative is tragic." Pine Street isn't recommending that people try to train their pets to sniff out cancer. The study dogs, without prompting, identified a malignant melanoma in a dog show judge and an early-stage lung cancer in a visiting Japanese TV producer, Broffman said. The foundation is consulting ethicists, because "it's a serious ethical issue in terms of what you say to people. You're kind of obligated to tell them. The take-away from that is people should not train their dogs because of this issue." They are also trying to find a way to de-program the dogs. Broffman emphasizes that the canines were treated so well during the study that "I wish I had been one of them." But his group hopes to explore whether a device like a breathalyzer could be developed that is as sensitive in detecting cancer. Dogs have an extraordinary detection threshold as low as parts per trillion, he said, "and the key is whether technology can develop such a device." =^.^= kittens are great caregivers

4 comments:

yochanan said...

what do you call a karpet kitten sitting on a raditor?

alberthaanstra said...
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superlong said...
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bengribbel01328148 said...
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