Medical science has achieved extraordinary feats in the last decade.
However, scientists are still struggling to find better diagnostic tools and
treatments for probably the most dreaded disease-cancer.
radiation therapy and surgery still remain the most common approaches to deal
with cancer, a few natural treatment options like hydrotherapy, color therapy,
diet therapy etc, have been popular among people having cancer in the early
stages, which is much easier to treat.
For long, scientists have been focusing on developing a single
effective early diagnostic tool for cancer, and it seems, we may soon have one.
Thanks to a new study conducted by a team of researchers from the
University of Pennsylvania, we may soon be able to detect ovarian cancer
in its early stages, thereby preventing its progression to a much more advanced
stage, and making treatment easy.
What's actually pretty amazing about this new diagnostic tool is that
it is nothing but a 4-legged canine. Yes! That's right. Turns out, dogs are
detectors when they are trained.
The researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Working Dog Center
took in three dogs, and trained them to sniff out a compound that indicates the
presence of ovarian cancer
by using blood and tissue samples donated by a few ovarian cancer patients.
Within just a week of training, two of the dogs 'sat down' when they
found the smell they were seeking, while the third dog 'barked' when he
detected the smell
Dogs, owing to a higher density of olfactory sensors and olfactory
bulbs, are actually wonderful and much more efficient detectors of smell,
making them an ideal cancer detector.
Now that the dogs are able to detect ovarian cancer by just sniffing
out a chemical marker, researchers will now work on developing an electronic
sensor to identify the same chemical marker; which will probably be more
efficient that the former detection tool.
"Because if the dogs can do it, then the question is, Can our
analytical instrumentation do it? We think we can," George Preti, an
organic chemist from the Monell Chemical Senses Center, which will work on
developing the new tool, said, considering the prospect.
This new tool may prove to be extremely effective in helping millions
of women from around the globe, who fall prey to ovarian cancer.
Statistics show that over 20,000 American women are diagnosed with
ovarian cancer every year, and around 70 percent of these cases are identified
after the disease has progressed. This is mostly because the cancer tends to
remain asymptomatic in the early stages or causes generic symptoms such as bloating,
and weight gain, which often tend to be ignored. Also, most people often tend
to forget getting their annual checkups done, which increases the possibility
of the disease spreading.
"If we can figure out what those chemicals are, what that fingerprint
of ovarian cancer is that's in the blood - or maybe even eventually in the
urine or something like that - then we can have that automated test that will
be less expensive and very efficient at screening those samples," Cindy Otto,
director of the Working Dog Center, explained. "We're really excited about
A similar study was carried out in 2011 in Germany, where dogs were
able to spot lung cancer correctly in almost 71 percent of patients.
"This is just the pilot study," Otto
added. "We're going to get more funding. This could provide cancer
screening for millions of women."