Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dog Sniffing Out Cancer May Lead to Early Detection Test

Via Medscape:

January 31, 2011 — The latest study demonstrating that dogs can sniff out cancer has confirmed the notion that a specific cancer smell does exist, and has added fuel to the idea of developing a test based on odor.

Previous studies have reported on dogs that can detect lung and breast cancer from breath samples, and there has been anecdotal evidence suggesting that dogs can detect melanoma, bladder, and ovarian cancers.

In this latest study, published online January 31 in Gut, a Labrador retriever was trained over several months to sniff out colorectal cancer in breath and watery stool samples.

The dog correctly identified cancer in 33 of 36 breath tests and in 37 of 38 stool tests. This equates to 95% accuracy overall for the breath test and 98% accuracy overall for the stool test, the researchers report.

The highest detection rates were among samples taken from patients with early-stage cancer, they add. Samples taken from smokers and from people with other gastrointestinal diseases, which might be expected to mask or interfere with cancer odors, did not appear to confuse the dog.

"This study shows that a specific cancer scent does indeed exist," the researchers conclude.

They are not suggesting using dogs in clinical practice, however. They point out that training the dog was expensive and time-consuming, and that ability and concentration vary between individual dogs and even the same dog on different days. The dog's concentration tends to decrease during the hot summer season; hence, they conducted their test between November and early June.

What they do propose is that this research could be used to develop cancer detection tests based on "odor materials."
This would involve identifying the cancer-specific volatile organic compounds (VOC) that are being detected by dogs using chemical analysis, and then developing an early cancer detection sensor that would substitute for the dog, they explain.


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Pharmacy History

"The earliest known compilation of medicinal substances was ARIANA the Sushruta Samhita, an Indian Ayurvedic treatise attributed to Sushruta in the 6th century BC. However, the earliest text as preserved dates to the 3rd or 4th century AD.
Many Sumerian (late 6th millennium BC - early 2nd millennium BC) cuneiform clay tablets record prescriptions for medicine.[3]

Ancient Egyptian pharmacological knowledge was recorded in various papyri such as the Ebers Papyrus of 1550 BC, and the Edwin Smith Papyrus of the 16th century BC.

The earliest known Chinese manual on materia medica is the Shennong Bencao Jing (The Divine Farmer's Herb-Root Classic), dating back to the 1st century AD. It was compiled during the Han dynasty and was attributed to the mythical Shennong. Earlier literature included lists of prescriptions for specific ailments, exemplified by a manuscript "Recipes for 52 Ailments", found in the Mawangdui tomb, sealed in 168 BC. Further details on Chinese pharmacy can be found in the Pharmacy in China article."

From Wikipedia:

Journal of Palliative Medicine - Table of Contents

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