12/03/2015 11:07 GMT | Updated 12/03/2015 13:59 GMT

Frankie The Dog Can 'Sniff Out Thyroid Cancer With 88% Accuracy'

A former bomb-sniffing dog named Frankie is using his astute sense of smell to 'sniff out' thyroid cancer.

The German Shepard has been trained using biopsies containing thyroid cancer to turn away when he detects the cancer and lie down when he does not.

Frankie's skills were tested on 34 patients at the University of Arkansas (UAMS), and gave the correct diagnosis in 30 out of 34 cases - meaning he had an incredible 88% accuracy. The dog made only two false positives and gave two patients incorrect "all-clear" diagnoses.

"What we have done, no one has attempted to do," said lead author of the study Arny Ferrando, who found Frankie as a stray.

"We have taken the next step by asking the dog to tell us whether or not cancer exists before the medical diagnostic system does."

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Know Your Body, Spot Cancer Symptoms

Dr Donald Bodenner, the chief of endocrine oncology at UAMS, said: "The capability of dogs to smell minute amounts is unbelievable.

"The medical community over the next few years is going to have a great appreciation [for them]."

"We would like to know what Frankie is smelling, nobody knows," he added.

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Of course, not everyone has a cancer-smelling dog on hand to raise the alarm.

The most common symptom of thyroid cancer is a painless lump or swelling in the base of the neck, where the thyroid gland is located.

According to the NHS, other symptoms only tend to occur after the condition has reached an advanced stage, and may include:

  • unexplained hoarseness that lasts for more than a few weeks
  • a sore throat or difficulty swallowing that doesn't get better
  • a lump elsewhere in your neck

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