K9 Medical Detection New Zealand is a registered Charitable Trust comprised of a dedicated team working to improve the health of all New Zealanders by using specially trained dogs working in a controlled clinical environment to assist in the detection of cancer and other diseases.
Cancers detected at an early stage are more likely to be treated successfully. Starting the treatment while the cancer is small and confined greatly improves the survival rate. While we have sophisticated laboratory diagnostic tests for many cancers, some cancers a) have no screening b) are difficult to detect and c) get diagnosed at a late stage.
Many diseases and disease-causing agents give off volatiles (odours). An alternative to molecular and physical screening techniques is the use of medical detection dogs to identify these volatile organic compounds (VOC) released from tumours. By training dogs to detect these specific odours it is possible to minimise the spread of the disease and identify at-risk patients sooner. This enables earlier commencement of treatment, potentially leading to improved patient outcomes.
The University of Otago is the research partner to K9 Medical Detection New Zealand. Professor Sarah Young is Academic Chair to a full clinical support team.
K9 Medical Detection New Zealand has a large training facility in Dunedin. Specifically designed scent detection equipment is used for their genetically selected working dogs. All training and testing is recorded into a specialised computer programme and analysed by Biostatistician Associate Professor Robin Turner. All training sessions are video recorded and each validation level is sent for peer review to an International canine scent detection expert in the United States.
K9 Medical Detection dogs are an additional valuable diagnostic tool in the growing battle against cancer and disease.