Sniffer Dogs Detect Lung Cancer

September 13, 2011

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. sniff (v.) [snif] – to smell by short intakes of breath (the sound of which can be heard)
Example: He could sniff food being cooked in the kitchen.

2. detect (v.) [dih-tekt] – to observe or sense the presence of something
Example: Medical tools help doctors detect early stages of diseases.
3. fleece (n.) [flees] – the coat of wool that covers a sheep or a similar animal
Example: Fleece fabric is commonly used to make winter clothing.

4. absorb (v.) [ab-sawrb]  – to take in or suck up
Example: The rag absorbed all the spilled water.

5. keen (adj.) [keen] – extremely sensitive or responsive
Example: The archer has very keen eyesight.

Read the text below.

A recent research in Germany shows that dogs can detect lung cancer by sniffing. However, further research needs to be done to find out what chemicals the dogs actually smell.

As early as 1989, studies suggest that dogs have the ability to sniff certain chemicals released from cancer tumors. In the recent experiment, four trained dogs were made to sniff tubes filled with fleece, which were used to absorb the breath of 220 people, 60 of whom have lung cancer. The dogs sat in front of those with lung cancer smells. The dogs were 71% successful and did not get confused with smells caused by other lung diseases or smoking.

According to Dr. Thorsten Walles, author of the research, the results confirm that dogs' keen sense of smell detects unique chemicals in the breath of lung cancer patients. Unfortunately, dogs cannot communicate what they can smell exactly.

Since it would be difficult to use dogs in clinics and hospitals, researchers are working on "electronic noses" that can detect the same chemicals as dogs. Dr. Laura McCallum of Cancer Research UK says further research is being carried out to determine the substance released by cancer tumors.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

·         In what instances can animals be of help to humans?
·         How do you feel about the use of animals for medical research?

Discussion B

·         Is cancer a common disease in your country?
·         What advantages do people have if cancer can be detected easily?

September 13, 2011