Can a Dog Diagnose Colon Cancer with Her Nose?
Another of my favorite articles
Reading Vinay’s article last week called to mind one of my favorite articles.
In 1999 I started teaching a course to 4th year medical students called “Critical Appraisal of the Landmark Medical Literature.” The idea behind the course was simple. By the time a medical student has reached the 4th year, he or she has learned from textbooks, review articles, and lectures. From that point onward though, continuing education depends on an ability to learn from cases and to assimilate new data as it appears in the medical literature. The goal of the course was to refine these skills while providing a foundation in the medical literature by reviewing some important studies -- a chance to critically appraise those papers that people recommend students read during their clinical year – a time when they are mostly too busy to actually read them.[i]
During the first half of the course each class would feature a brief talk on a different study type (RCT, case control, decision analysis, non-inferiority…) and then discuss a “classic” article from a syllabus. In the second half of the course, students were free to choose articles from the entirety of the medical literature.
This article, Colorectal Cancer Screening with Odour Material by Canine Scent Detection, was chosen by a student one year. When I first read it, I hated it. It was a diagnostic test study, one of my favorite article types, but not a traditional one. However, after discussing it in the class, I recognized how interesting it really is.
Let’s get to the article.
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