Pigeons Can Detect Cancer

They are about as reliable as the human eye

You've heard of homing pigeons delivering messages for humans, but have you heard of cancer-detecting pigeons? Scientists have trained the birds to identify cancer in images of tissues taken through biopsy procedures and they say that pigeons are actually just as good at finding cancer as human experts are when averaged out per flock. It may sound silly to do this, but it can help cut costs and time. As long as it takes to train humans and computers to perform these tasks, that's time a patient can't wait for and money that could be spent on more important oncology-related matters.

Pigeons that identify cancerous cells can be trained quickly and obviously cost nothing. They do have to be partly trained without humans present to avoid unintentional cues that humans might leave for them, but that's still a lot easier than hosting a class for medical students. And while the students still need to be trained, of course, the pigeons can also help catch things that students and doctors might miss. Patients may not like the idea of a bird helping with their diagnosis, though!

Would you be okay with a pigeon diagnosing your cancer? What do you think of using animals in medicine? Share your thoughts in the chat below.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <ul> <ol> <li> <i> <b> <img> <table> <tr> <td> <th> <div> <strong> <p> <br> <u>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.