Sep 01, 2011 at 10:00am IST

Germany: dogs trained to sniff lung cancer

New Delhi: Doctors in Germany have trained dogs to sniff out lung cancer from a sample of person's breath. The dogs are trained to lie down when they detect a cancer sample and can look forward to receiving a treat.

Bonni is no regular german shepherd - she's among the several dogs trained in a training school to sniff out lung cancer.

"We trained the dogs via positive stimulation. So the smell of cancer is regarded as lucrative, positive by our dogs. We had a large amount of samples, more than 200, and the dogs had to differ between cancer and not cancer," said dog trainer Uwe Friedrich.

Friedrich works together with doctors at a clinic in Germany that specialises in lung diseases.

Scientists had found that lung cancer has a specific combination of odours.

Scientist Enole Boedeker said, "we did some tests and we found sensitivity of 72 per cent - the dogs can easily find the lung cancer beside all other influences."

The dogs can also detect a difference between patients who have been suffering for some time from lung cancer compared to those who have just recently fallen ill.

While there have been studies on sniffer dogs, that have shown 40 to 90 per cent success in accurately identifying cancers including bladder and colon cancers, not to mention their ability to sniff out low blood sugar levels among diabetics.