Lung cancer diagnosis by trained dogs

Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2017 Dec 1;52(6):1206-1210. doi: 10.1093/ejcts/ezx152.


Objectives: Early lung cancer (LC) diagnosis is key to improve prognosis. We explored here the diagnostic performance of a trained dog to discriminate exhaled gas samples obtained from patients with and patients without LC and healthy controls.

Methods: After appropriate training, we exposed the dog (a 3-year-old cross-breed between a Labrador Retriever and a Pitbull) to 390 samples of exhaled gas collected from 113 individuals (85 patients with LC and 28 controls, which included 11 patients without LC and 17 healthy individuals) for a total of 785 times.

Results: The trained dog recognized LC in exhaled gas with a sensitivity of 0.95, a specificity of 0.98, a positive predictive value of 0.95 and a negative predictive value of 0.98. The area under the curve of the receiver-operating characteristics curve was 0.971.

Conclusions: This study shows that a well-trained dog can detect the presence of LC in exhaled gas samples with an extremely high accuracy.

Keywords: Exhaled gas; Lung cancer diagnosis; Smoking; Volatile organ compounds.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Breath Tests / methods*
  • Dogs
  • Early Detection of Cancer*
  • Exhalation / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • ROC Curve