Lead researcher Prof Richard Levenson, of the University of California have made a great discovery that pigeons can detect breast cancer quiet accurately.
Pigeons can screen for breast cancer just as well as humans, research suggests. Scientists got the birds to examine images from mammogram scans and microscope slides from biopsies.
Using a food reward system, they trained them to tell which samples showed benign tissues and which had malignant ones. Within a fortnight, the pigeons were 85 per cent accurate — as effective as trained pathologists and radiologists. Mammograms, or X-rays of the breast, look for early signs of cancer.
If any are found, a biopsy then takes place, where small samples of body tissue are examined under the microscope for abnormal cells. Pigeons were good both at spotting tell-tale calcification spots in mammograms and cancer signs in biopsies.
Lead researcher Prof Richard Levenson, of the University of California, said: “With some training and selective food reinforcement, pigeons do just as well as humans.
“They were remarkably adept at discriminating between benign and malignant breast cancer slides at all magnifications, a task humans require considerable training to master.”
Previous studies have shown common pigeons can distinguish between a wide range of objects and images, including expressions on human faces and letters of the alphabet. Prof Levenson said using pigeons could be an effective way of saving money, pointing out that even highly-trained doctors can struggle to interpret microscopic slides.
He added: “Using trained human observers is a time-consuming and expensive process that requires the recruitment of clinicians for relatively mundane tasks.”
Source: The Sun UK