THE PRELIMINARY STUDY
An innovative scientific challenge
Dogs are also collaborators in several other research studies worldwide. In the US, the UK, Italy, Germany or Mexico, dogs’ sense of smell is used to detect different cancers (prostate, lung, bladder, or cervical cancer). In these research projects, protocol varies and most of the time dogs directly smell human body fluids (breath or urine). KDOG’s originality stems from the use of a compress as a support for odor analysis. For the first time, dogs are trained to detect cancer transcutaneously.
The KDOG’s screening method is built between the hospital, the woman’s home and the dog center.
The KDOG Kit
The first samples were collected in August 2016 on a voluntary basis. 130 women progressively take part in the study. During a medical consultation at the Institut Curie, after obtaining oral consent, the participants were provided with a kit. The KDOG kit was constituted of one bottle of unscented soap, one compress of sterile gauze, one sterilized jar and the instruction manual. Each participant was asked to put the compress in contact with the breast of their choice after having showered with the unscented soap. Breast cancer patients positioned it on the affected breast, the night prior to surgery or the night prior to pre-operative evaluation. The compress was kept in place for the whole night with a clean bra. In the morning, the compress was removed by the participant and put in the jar. The participant finally closed the jar’s lid. Participants brought back the sweat sample to the hospital themselves. The compress absorbed the tumor’s odor.
Sent to the dog center, these samples were used to train the two Belgian Shepherds to cancer detection for 6 months. They followed different memorization exercises to be able to distinguish between the samples and recognize the tumor smell.
The results of the preliminary study
The last step of this training was a double-blind test to verify dogs’ progression. Results were very encouraging since they were able to detect properly the cancer samples 90,3% of the time during the 1st trial and 100% of the times during the 2nd trial. These results were presented to the French National Academy of Medicine by Isabelle Fromantin and Séverine Alran (February 21st 2017).
This preliminary study allowed us to confirm that it was possible for dogs to identify cancer’s smell and opens prospects for a clinical study.