Can Dogs Sniff Cancer?

This may sound funny, but it isn't. A recently published study titled "Olfactory detection of human bladder cancer by dogs: proof of principle study" published in the British Medical Journal, v 239, p 712 (2004) claims that dogs have some ability to determine (by sniffing urine) whether patients have bladder cancer. Six dogs were trained to discriminate between urine from patients with bladder cancer, and urine from diseased and healthy controls. The dogs were then tested by requiring them to select the one bladder cancer urine sample that was put together with six control samples (total: 7 samples).

If the dogs would select the bladder cancer by chance, they would randomly identify the correct sample once in seven times. (remember: one out of seven samples contain bladder cancer urine). This is equal to 1/7 = 14% success. In fact, the dogs were able to identify the sample with bladder cancer 22 out of 54 occasions, or a success rate of 41% (22% to 58% Margin of Error).

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Last Modification - September 25, 2004