Often called mans best friend, dogs have been awarded another claim to be saviour of their owners. Scientists have discovered that dogs can sniff out cancer and even detect unconfirmed cases.
A study using six trained dogs, a Labrador, three cocker spaniels, a Papillion and a mongrel, found that their ability to detect a sample of urine from a patient with bladder cancer was pretty conclusive.
The dogs correctly identified the sample of urine from patients with bladder cancer on 22 out of 54 occasions, and amazingly one sample from a patient who had earlier been declared healthy.
Later tests confirmed he was suffering from kidney tumour.
The success rate was 41 per cent compared to the 14 per cent that was expected if the dogs had selected a sample at random. Spaniels performed best with two getting five out of nine tests correct and the other getting four.
The distinctive odours, produced by tumours, that are impossible for humans to detect, can be spotted by dogs even when the odour is present in miniscule quantities. A dog's nose can be up to 100,000 times more sensitive than that of a human being.
The research team was led by Dr Carolyn Willis, a scientist at the Department of Dermatology in Amersham Hospital, was based on the anecdotal evidence that dogs could sniff out the skin cancer.
Dr Willis said to The British Medical Journal, said the dogs seemed to have the ability to pick up a "chemical profile" of the cancer probably made up of several volatile chemicals.
The dogs were trained over nine months to lie down when they detected the cancer sample. Each dog was tested nine times.
This truly is a case of case of dogs being mans best friend.