HELSINKI, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- Since they were first domesticated at least 150 centuries ago, the dog has been human's best friend. Now, they have another job -- to help diagnose cancer.
After a long-standing research of odors, a Finnish professor has claimed that certain types of cancer are able to be detected by their smell, making it possible to train cancer-sniffing dogs to differentiate between healthy and sick tissue to help diagnose the disease, the Russian news agency Sputnik has reported.
The professor, Jouko Vepsalainen from the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, has focused on nitrogen compounds, which increase dramatically when cancer cells grow in an uncontrollable way, allowing them to be detected, the Finnish newspaper Karjalainen reported.C
According to Vepsalainen, ongoing research may help develop industrially manufactured and clinically applicable diagnostic tests, which could drastically speed up the identification of cancer or precancerous lesions.
That's where the dog, man's best friend, may step in with their keen sense of smell.
"We know with 99-percent certainty that we are on the right track. A dog's sense of smell is incredibly sensitive, up to 100,000 times more accurate than human's. There is a huge dimension of molecules a dog could smell," Vepsalainen was quoted as saying by Sputnik.
According to the news agency, researchers in Finland have managed to train dogs to distinguish mammary carcinoma in dog urine. It takes a dog between weeks and months to get the hang of distinguishing between sick and healthy urine.
But the method has yet to be applied to human samples as ethical permissions are needed, said Sputnik.
"Anyone who knows how difficult early cancer detection is understands what an opportunity this is," associate professor Anna Hielm-Bjorkman of the University of Helsinki, told the Finnish daily Hufvudstadsbladet.