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Dogs Detect Breast Cancer From Bandage: Researchers

Dogs can sniff out cancer from a piece of cloth which had touched the breast of a woman with a tumour, researchers said Friday, announcing the results of an unusual, but promising, diagnostic trial.

With just six months of training, a pair of German Shepherds became 100-percent accurate in their new role as breast cancer spotters, the team said.

The technique is simple, non-invasive and cheap, and may revolutionise cancer detection in countries where mammograms are hard to come by.

“In these countries, there are oncologists, there are surgeons, but in rural areas often there is limited access to diagnostics,” Isabelle Fromantin, who leads project Kdog, told journalists in Paris.
This means that “people arrive too late,” to receive life-saving treatment, she added. “If this works, we can roll it out rapidly.”

Working on the assumption that breast cancer cells have a distinguishing smell which sensitive dog noses will pick up, the team collected samples from 31 cancer patients.

These were pieces of bandage that patients had held against their affected breast.
With the help of canine specialist Jacky Experton, the team trained German Shepherds Thor and Nykios to recognise cancerous rags from non-cancerous ones.

“It is all based on game-playing” and reward, he explained.

After six months, the dogs were put to the test over several days in January and February this year.
This time, the researchers used 31 bandages from different cancer patients than those the dogs had been trained on.

One bandage was used per experiment, along with three samples from women with no cancer.

– Saving lives –

Each bandage was placed in a box with a large cone which the dogs could stick their noses into, sniffing at each in turn – four boxes per test.

The exercise was repeated once with each sample, meaning there were 62 individual responses from the dogs in all.

In the first round, the dogs detected 28 out of the 31 cancerous bandages – a 90-per cent pass rate, the researchers announced.

On the second try, they scored 100 per cent – sitting down in front of the box containing the cancerous sample with their muzzle pressed deep into the cone.

“There is technology that works very well, but sometimes simpler things, more obvious things, can also help,” said Amaury Martin of the Curie Institute, citing the many untested stories of dogs having detected cancer in their owners.
“Our aim was see if we can move from conventional wisdom to… real science, with all the clinical and research validation that this entails.”

This was the proof-of-concept phase of Kdog.

The next step will be a clinical trial with more patients and another two dogs, but the team is still in need of project funding.

The team believes that one day dogs may be replaced by “sniffing” machines, possibly armies of electronic diagnosticians dedicated to analysing samples that people far from clinics would send them by the post.

In the meantime, Experton said there is little danger of the trained dogs using their new-found skills to accost cancer sufferers outside the lab.

“These tests happen within a very specific work environment,” he explained. “In a different context, these dogs are unlikely to simply pounce on random people in the street.

The team says it is the only one to work with breast cancer detection from skin-touch samples.
Other research projects are testing canines’ ability to smell different types of cancer in samples of the skin itself, blood or urine, even the air people exhale.

In France, the chances of surviving ten years after a breast cancer diagnosis is about 85 percent, compared to around 50 per cent in poorer countries.

 

AFP                  March 25, 2017


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Tai Chi Might Help Those With Long-Term Conditions

Study shows ancient exercise improves physical ability in those with arthritis, heart failure, emphysema and breast cancer

By Steven Reinberg     HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 17, 2015 (HealthDay News) – The slow, fluid movements of tai chi – an ancient Chinese exercise – appear to help older adults with chronic conditions improve their physical function, a new review suggests.

Specifically, those with breast cancer, heart failure, osteoarthritis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, which includes emphysema) saw improvements in strength, balance and posture without worsening pain or being out of breath, researchers said.

“If you’re older and have one of the conditions mentioned in the study, tai chi may be an alternative you can use to increase your fitness level,” said senior researcher Darlene Reid, professor and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto in Canada.

Tai chi is a series of gentle, flowing movements that aim to improve muscle power, balance, posture and flexibility, she said.

In addition, tai chi has a mental aspect, Reid said. “Many types of tai chi have a strong spiritual component,” she said. “So it may appeal to people in a different way than other types of exercise.”

Reid said other advantages of tai chi are that it can be done in a variety of environments, alone or in groups, and doesn’t require any equipment.

Moreover, as one ages, vigorous exercise may be less appealing, Reid said. “Tai chi is slow, rhythmical movements that have been developed over thousands of years and includes movements that require strength of different muscle groups,” she said.

The review was published Sept. 17 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

For the current review, researchers used data from 33 previously published studies. These studies included more than 1,500 people. The average age of people in the studies ranged from mid 50s to early 70s.

The average length of the tai chi training program was 12 weeks, and most sessions lasted an hour. Tai chi was usually done two to three times a week, the researchers said.

Multi-ethnic group of adults practicing tai chi in park. Main focus on senior man (60s).

Tai chi resulted in improvement in a six-minute walking test; muscle strength (measured by bending and stretching the knees); the time it took to get up and move; and quality of life, the researchers said.

Tai chi was associated with improvement in physical ability and muscle strength in most of the four chronic conditions. But there was only a trend toward improvement in muscle strength for people with osteoarthritis who did tai chi, the study found.

Tai chi was also associated with an improvement in pain and stiffness in osteoarthritis, in breathlessness in COPD, and improved sit-to-stand times among patients with osteoarthritis, the researchers said. They noted only an association and not a cause-and-effect link was seen between tai chi and physical improvements.

Samantha Heller is a senior clinical nutritionist and exercise physiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. She reviewed the study and said, “The great thing about tai chi is that it is a gentle form of movement that is appropriate for many people suffering from medical conditions that preclude other, more rigorous forms of exercise.”

Tai chi is usually not expensive and many senior centers and other places offer free classes, she said.

“In addition there are videos and DVDs of tai chi so people can practice at home, though I would recommend initially working with a qualified instructor,” Heller said.

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center and president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, also reviewed the study. “Tai chi is accessible even to those who might think exercise out of reach due to their pain or functional limitations,” he said.

Other forms of exercise could likely offer the same benefit, he said.

“For now, though, we have evidence that tai chi confers the benefits of exercise on groups for whom physical activity is a challenge. That is reason enough to include it more routinely among doctor recommendations,” Katz said.

SOURCES: W. Darlene Reid, Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Physical Therapy, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada; David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Yale University Prevention Research Center, New Haven, Conn., and president, American College of Lifestyle Medicine; Samantha Heller, M.S., R.D., senior clinical nutritionist and exercise physiologist, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City; Sept. 17, 2015, British Journal of Sports Medicine

source: WebMD News from HealthDay