A town in Japan with high rates of stomach cancer is turning to sniffer dogs for help.
Kaneyama, a town in northeastern Japan with 6,000 residents, has Japan’s highest fatality rates stemming from stomach cancer, local reports say.
The town is now taking part in a research programme, in which residents’ frozen urine samples are sent to the Nippon Medical School, just east of Tokyo. At the school, dogs are trained to sniff out signs of disease.
Dogs have some 300 million sensors in their nose, compared to five million in a human. They also have a second smelling device in the back of their noses, the combination of which allows trained dogs to detect cancerous tumours which is said to give out a specific odour.
“Nearly 100 percent accuracy.”
“In our research so far, cancer detection dogs have been able to find [signs of] cancer with an accuracy of nearly 100 per cent,” said Professor Miyashita, of the Nippon Medical School.
There are only five dogs trained to work as cancer detection dogs in Japan, according to a training facility in the country. It costs about $45,000 to train each dog.
Cancer sniffing dogs are not unique to Japan.
In the UK, a major trial was conducted last year at Medical Detection Dogs, where dogs were taught to sniff out prostrate cancer from urine samples. The group claimed to have a 93 percent success rate.
In a training session, dogs are taken around a room with different samples only one sample will contain cancer cells.
When the detect the smell, they are trained to sit down in front of the sample and touch it with their nose.
“We are now understanding the huge potential dogs have,” Claire Guest, founder of the Medical Detection Dogs told news outlet the Huffington Post.
“I think the potential for this is absolutely huge and we’re only just beginning to scratch the surface.”