A SPANISH dog has been trained to nose out lung cancer with a 95% success rate.
Blat, from Barcelona, can detect the deadly disease just by smelling the breath of potential sufferers.
Incredibly, the canine super sleuth can even detect cancer in its very early stages.
“The dog seems able to pick up everything, even when the tumours are very small, it’s astonishing,” wrote Angela Guirao, co-author of the study which was carried out at Barcelona’s Hospital Clinic.
Blat can sniff breath samples which have been hermetically sealed and are then opened and placed within a wooden box with a hole to amplify the scent.
Within seconds the dog can detect lung cancer and indicate it by sitting next to the sample.
More amazingly, Blat was a delinquent dog when Angela adopted him at 11 months after he needed rehoming.
But after months of training Blat, now three-and-a-half years old, has an almost faultless record. “He was a little hooligan because he hadn’t been trained properly but I saw that he had great potential and took him on,” said Angela. “I recognised him as a labrador retriever mixed with an American Staffordshire pit bull, a cross that makes for easy training.”
Blat’s results have astounded the medical profession. “They indicate that there are molecules specific to lung cancers and that some of these molecules are detectable in the exhaled air,” explained Laureano Molins, a thoracic surgeon at Hospital Clinic and co-author of trial.
“These are spectacular results as 75% of lung cancer cases are diagnosed when the disease is already advanced,” she added.
The study hopes to develop a test that can identify the molecules specific to certain types of cancer.