What’s the latest cancer-fighting weapon these days? A dog. The medical world is buzzing over a new study that shows specially-trained “sniffing dogs” can detect lung cancer. And experts say this could be a major lifesaver.  Because current lung cancer detection methods often don’t catch the disease until it’s already reached its most deadly stage.

Here’s what happened. German researchers studied 200 people.  Some had lung cancer, and others were in perfect health. Both groups blew into test tubes stuffed with cotton, which absorbed the compounds from their breath. “Sniffing dogs” then smelled the test tubes and were trained to lie down next to ones they suspected came from patients with lung cancer.

The result? Dogs correctly detected lung tumors in 71% of patients.  Which means sniffing dogs could be the future method for early - and lifesaving - lung cancer detection.

So, why are dogs natural cancer detectors? Lead researcher Dr. Thorsten Walls says that dogs have a sense of smell 100,000 times more powerful than humans. And even one whiff of breath is often enough for canines to pick up a lung cancer biomarker.

Of course, researchers are doing more doggie “smell test” trials before it becomes the go-to method for diagnosis. And we’ll keep you posted on the progress.