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Innovation May Lead to Early Detection

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For most, a mesothelioma diagnosis represents a death sentence. In spite of medical advancements, early detection is difficult until the disease is in an advanced stage where medical treatment is limited.

Searches for a way to speed up detection have not met with much success, pushing studies to a more "out of the box" category.

Researchers at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) in Florida recently published a study that may provide a glimmer of hope. The project's findings were surprising, if not a bit unorthodox. Dogs can detect specific cancer biomarkers, giving hope that an over-the-counter mesothelioma test may be possible.

It is no surprise that a dog's sense of smell is significantly more than humans, up to 10,000 times. The researchers used Beagles - provided by a canine training and research firm called BioScentDX - due to the breed having the most sensitive sense of smell. The objective was to see if that breed could identify blood serum samples from lung cancer victims.

For nearly two months, Beagles were exposed to multiple canisters at once that contained blood serums. Only one came from a lung cancer patient. The results were overwhelmingly positive. The dogs accurately detected the cancer samples at a rate of 96.7 percent while ignoring non-cancer canisters 97.5 percent of the time.

That represented a lot of treats for the Beagles and, more importantly, hope for victims of mesothelioma and their family members.

The success of the study has led to a second project that would involve dogs detecting breath samples. Early results are promising.

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