We’ve all heard those heart-warming stories about dogs sniffing out cancer in their owners and prompting them to get checked out. A team of scientists from Open University and Queen Mary University of London have created a much more modern form of the cancer-sniffing dog: a computerized “dog nose” cancer sniffer.
The machine works in much the same way as a dog’s nose: it “sniffs” a specimen to see if the telltale gases associated with cancer are present. Currently the device is only being tested for use with bladder cancer. This type of cancer was the obvious choice because urine, which comes into contact with the bladder tumor, is easy to obtain and sample. Other types of cancer detection devices use the small secretions of telltale odors in the patient’s breath.
There are plenty of types of cancer other than bladder to be sniffed out. If the device passes muster in the urine cancer trials, it could eventually be used to detect cancer tumors in other parts of the body. Less invasive than a biopsy, this device could help people around the world detect cancer before it progresses to a critical point. We do still recommend keeping a dog around, though, because dogs are fantastic.