DiversityNursing Blog

Dogs Could Be 'Noninvasive, Inexpensive' Diagnosis Aids For Thyroid Cancer

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Tue, Mar 10, 2015 @ 01:24 PM

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Dogs are often referred to as "man's best friend," and a new study brings further strength to this term after revealing how a rescue dog called Frankie was able to detect the presence of thyroid cancer in human urine samples with almost 90% accuracy.

According to the research team, from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock, Frankie - a male German Shepherd-mix - is the first dog that has been trained to differentiate benign thyroid disease and thyroid cancer by sniffing human urine samples.

Thyroid cancer is a cancer that begins in the thyroid gland, situated just below the thyroid cartilage in the front of the neck. Approximately 62,450 new cases of thyroid cancer will be diagnosed in the US this year, and around 1,950 Americans will die from the disease.

Unlike most other cancers, thyroid cancer is more common among younger adults, with almost 2 in 3 cases diagnosed in people under the age of 55.

Diagnostic techniques for thyroid cancer include fine-needle aspiration biopsy, which involves the patient having a thin needle inserted into the thyroid gland in order to obtain a tissue sample.

Senior investigator Dr. Donald Bodenner, chief of endocrine oncology at UAMS, says the diagnostic accuracy of canine scent detection is almost on par with that of fine-needle aspiration biopsy, but it would be an inexpensive and noninvasive alternative.

What is more, he notes many current methods for diagnosing thyroid cancer can be inaccurate, causing some patients to undergo needless surgery.

"Scent-trained canines could be used by physicians to detect the presence of thyroid cancer at an early stage and to avoid surgery when unwarranted," he adds.

Frankie trained to sniff out cancer in human urine samples

For their study, recently presented at The Endocrine Society's 97th Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA, Dr. Bodenner and colleagues obtained urine samples from 34 patients who attended the UAMS thyroid clinic.

All patients showed abnormalities in their thyroid nodules and went on to have biopsies and diagnostic surgery. Thyroid cancer was identified in 15 patients while 19 had benign thyroid disease.

Frankie - who the researchers say had been previously trained to recognize the smell of cancer in human thyroid tissue - was presented with the urine samples to sniff one at a time by a gloved dog handler.

While humans have around 5 million smell receptors, or olfactory cells, dogs possess around 200 million, making their sense of smell around a thousand times stronger than that of humans. 

Frankie alerted the handler to a cancer-positive urine sample by lying down, while turning away from the urine sample alerted the handler to a benign status. 

The authors note that the cancer status of each urine sample was unknown to both the dog handler and the study coordinator.

The handler also presented Frankie with urine samples with a known cancer status in between the study samples so the dog could be rewarded for achieving a correct answer.

30 out of 34 samples correctly identified with canine scent detection

On comparing Frankie's results with those of the final surgical pathology report for the samples, the team found the dog correctly identified the status of 30 out of 34 samples.

The sensitivity, or true-positive rate, of the canine scent detection came in at 86.7%, while specificity, or true-negative rate, was 89.5%. This means Frankie correctly identified a benign sample almost 9 in every 10 times.

The team notes that canine scent detection led to two false-negative and two false-positive results. The researchers now plan to expand their research by teaming up with Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, AL, who have agreed to assign two of its bomb-sniffing dogs to thyroid cancer detection training.

This is not the first time Medical News Today have reported on the cancer-detection talent of dogs. In May 2014, a study by Italian researchers revealed how specially trained dogs were able to detect prostate cancer in urine samples with 98% accuracy.

Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com

Topics: health, cancer, health care, study, medicine, treatment, medical, dog, diagnosis, noninvasive

Dog Escapes From Home, Sneaks Into Hospital 20 Blocks Away To Comfort Sick Owner

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Feb 16, 2015 @ 11:04 AM

By Ryan Grenoble

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"Dogged determination" has a mascot, and it's a miniature schnauzer named "Sissy."

On Sunday, the dog escaped from her yard in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, walked 15 to 20 blocks to the hospital, and then sneaked inside to find her human, Nancy Franck, who has been there recovering from cancer surgery for the last several weeks.

Security camera footage from the hospital shows Sissy enter the building via two sets of motion-activated doors. Once inside, the dog looks around, then puts her nose to the ground and heads straight down the hall, appearing to sniff out a trail.

"We looked up and there was this dog just that was just running across the lobby,” Mercy Medical Center security officer Samantha Conrad told KCRG. Conrad said they looked at her tags and called Sissy's home. Nancy's husband, Dale, answered and was relieved to conclude an hours-long search for the dog.

Sadly, Sissy couldn't stay in the hospital, but she was permitted to briefly visit with Nancy before Dale took her back home.

Nancy told KWWL it was "a big boost" to spend time with the devoted dog. "It helped a lot," she said, "just to see her and talk to her."

The Francks say they've never taken Sissy to the hospital, reports note, so they aren't sure how she knew to navigate there. Since Nancy works in a building near the hospital, they speculated the dog had been in the car when Nancy was dropped off one day, and somehow found her way back.

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com

Topics: hospital, cancer, patient, recovery, dog, surgery, owner

Stray Dog Credited for Christmas 'Miracle' Cancer Cure

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Dec 29, 2014 @ 10:42 AM

By LIZ NEPORENT

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Adopting a stray dog while in the midst of battling a disease that was deemed incurable hardly seems like the best timing, yet that’s exactly what Bill Hogencamp and his wife Kathy decided to do.

They believe that decision helped save his life.

Hogencamp, an 84-year-old semi-retired architect from Phenix, Alabama, was diagnosed with incurable cancer of the gall bladder, liver, colon and the lining of his abdomen back in May. Doctors told him he wouldn’t live to see Christmas.

“I have seven children and I’ve traveled all around the world,” Hogencamp said. “I thought if this is it, then this is it.”

Hogencamp chose to undergo treatment even though his doctor told him there was no hope, he recalled. In October, he had an operation to remove three large tumors.

Eleven days after his surgery, his wife was on her way to pick him up from a rehabilitation facility when she spotted a small white dog wandering down the middle of the road, in danger of being hit by a car. Although she was in a rush, she said something compelled her to stop and rescue the pup.

“He walked past six other cars right up to the side of my car and put his paws up on the door,” she recalled.

While his wife was hooked on the cute little dog right away, Hogencamp needed some convincing.

“I hadn’t had a dog in twenty years and I had no desire to have a dog,” he said. “I kept saying we need to find his owner.”

Despite an extensive search and nearly a dozen false leads, the Hogencamps were never able to track down the dog’s owner. They learned from a vet they visited during their search that he was a Maltese, probably around 6 years old, fixed but not chipped.

Besides, the dog very quickly won Hogencamp over. They soon became inseparable.

Whenever Hogencamp sat down, the dog -- who they named Mahjong after Kathy’s favorite card game -- would jump in his lap. Whenever Hogencamp napped, Mahjong would curl up next to him. When Hogencamp returned home after being out, Mahjong would hop onto his hind legs and dance with joy.

As he and his wife settled into life with a dog, Hogencamp underwent chemotherapy. Just before the holiday he received some miraculous news: Tests showed that he was now cancer free.

The doctors are at a loss to explain this amazing turn of events, Hogencamp’s wife said. But she said the family believes that Mahjong has played a huge part in her husband’s recovery.

“The dog seemed to know right away that Bill was sick and it was his job to take care of him -- and Bill knew it was his job to take care of the dog,” she said.

Hogencamp agreed. He said their relationship gave both him and the dog a sense of purpose. Although he knows he owes much of his cure to great medical care and a lot of luck, he said that he is convinced the little white dog was sent to him to help him get better.

As they celebrate Christmas, Hogencamp said he has two final chemotherapy treatments. He said he’s spending the day with friends, family and of course, Mahjong.

“My life has been a miracle,” Hogencamp said. “And now Mahjong is part of that miracle.”

Source: http://abcnews.go.com

Topics: health, cancer, doctors, cure, rescue, treatment, Christmas, dog, life, surgeries, stray dog, miracle, diagnosed, tumors, operation

Sick Man Has 'Complete Turnaround' After Hospital Reunion With Lost Pet

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Oct 20, 2014 @ 09:22 AM

By Eun Kyung Kim

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James Wathen had stopped eating. Frail and barely able to speak, the 73-year-old whispered to a health care worker that he missed his dog, a one-eyed Chihuahua he hadn't seen since paramedics whisked him away to a Kentucky hospital weeks earlier. 

So a team of nurses hustled to learn the fate of Wathen's beloved pet, Bubba, hoping a reunion might provide some peace and comfort to their heartbroken and deteriorating patient — even if arranging one meant bending ahospital rule against pets.

A series of phone calls eventually led the nurses to the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter, where Bubba was taken and placed with a foster family, said Mary-Ann Smyth, president of the non-profit facility.

Coincidentally, Bubba had also recently fallen ill.

"The dog quit eating a week ago, which is very strange," Smyth told TODAY.com. "The dog didn’t know where James was and James didn't know where the dog was and believe it or not, they both stopped eating at about the same time."

Plans were made to bring the little pooch, who lacked his bottom row of teeth along with his right eye, to the hospital over the weekend.

“He was so sad at first. We had him wrapped in a baby blanket and he was shivering,” Smyth said. “The minute we got about 20 steps from this guy’s room — I kid you not — his little head went up. His eyes got real bright and he was like a different dog.”

She says a similar transformation took place in Wathen during his roughly 30-minute hospital reunion Saturday with Bubba. 

"They didn’t think James was going to make it," she recalled being told during her initial visit to the hospital. “I was 10 feet from his bed and you could barely understand him because he was so hard to hear. The nurse had to lean up right against his face to hear what he was saying."

But he slowly perked up as his dog snuggled with him on his bed. By the time Bubba returned for a second visit Tuesday, visible changes were noticeable in both man and his best friend.

"He’s done a complete turnaround. He's speaking, he's sitting up, he’s eating. He doesn't look like the same guy," said Smyth, who didn't attend the second visit but saw Wathen in footage recorded by the shelter's director. "And the dog is eating and doing better now, too."

Baptist Health Corbin, the hospital treating Wathen, did not return repeated messages left by TODAY.com seeking comment.  

But nurse Kimberly Probus told WKYT-TV a team of nurses went looking for Bubba after "one of our social workers realized it was mourning the loss of the dog that was making our patient even worse and emotionally unhealthy."  

Smyth said she's not surprised at the healing power pets provide their owners.

"I hope this story will show to people the tremendous difference that animals can make in people’s lives," she said. She also hopes it will encourage people to think about rescuing pets from shelters like hers, which is rebuilding its facility after its previous home burned down in a fire last November.

“One of the biggest problems we face is the way some people think of animals. People just don’t see animals as creatures and beings, they see them as property,” she said. “I hope people understand they’re not 'its,' they’re 'beings.'”

Source: www.today.com


Topics: health, nurses, healthcare, hospital, patient, dog, animals, pet

3 More Diagnosed With Rare Plague in Colorado

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jul 21, 2014 @ 12:44 PM

By Reuters

bacteria resized 600

Three more people in Colorado have been diagnosed with the plague after coming in contact with an infected dog whose owner contracted a life-threatening form of the disease, state health officials said on Friday.

In all, four people were infected with the disease from the same source, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in a statement.

Last week the department said a man in an eastern Colorado county whose dog died of the plague had been diagnosed with pneumonic plague, a rare and serious form of the disease.

The man remains hospitalized, but authorities have not released his condition.

The three people in the latest reported cases had "mild symptoms" and have fully recovered after being treated with antibiotics, the department said, adding that they are no longer contagious.

Two of the patients in the new cases contracted pneumonic plague, the department said.

Pneumonic plague is the only form of the disease that can be transmitted person-to-person, usually through infectious droplets from coughing.

The bacteria that causes plague occurs naturally in the western United States, primarily in California, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The infected canine in Colorado likely contracted the disease from prairie dogs or rabbits, which are the primary hosts for fleas that carry the bacteria.

When an infected animal dies, the fleas spread the disease when they find another host.

Colorado has seen a total of 12 cases of humans infected with the plague over the last decade, said Jennifer House, the department's public health veterinarian.

"We usually don't see an outbreak like this related to the same source," House said.

Colorado had not had a confirmed human case of pneumonic plague since 2004, she said.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/health

Topics: health, disease, CDC, plague, Colorado, news, blog, humans, dog, infection, public health

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