Do Dogs Know the Smell of Cancer?

3:30:00 AM

We all know that dogs have extraordinary sense of smell. James Walker, the director of the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University in Tallahassee acknowledged that when compared to humans, a dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more superior. Still, can dogs really smell cancer?

That Wet Dog Smell., originally uploaded by alifetimeatsingsing.

In 1989, a woman was diagnosed of skin cancer when she had her mole on her leg taken out because her dog ( a border Collie and Doberman mix) kept sniffing on it. In 2001, the same case was reported by a man when his Labrador kept sniffing on a patch of eczema on his leg.

In both cases, the cancer was detected just in time before it was too late for treatment. The dogs saved their humans' lives. These are just two examples but there have been a lot of dog owners who reported cases that their dogs have showed signs that there is something wrong with them, and it turned out that they have cancer. Are these all coincidences?

Scientists believe that tumors or cancer cells inside our bodies do emit certain chemicals that are beyond the range of our senses. However, it is possible that dogs can distinguish these scents.

A study was done to find out if dogs can detect bladder cancer from smelling urine samples of both healthy and cancer patients. The research was conducted through a collaboration of researchers from the Amersham Hospital in England and the organization of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. Although the dogs weren’t able to come up with one hundred percent accuracy, a 41% success rate proved that dogs can be trained to recognize the smell of bladder cancer more accurately.

In March 2006, a more recent scientific research headed by Michael McCulloch of the Pine Street Foundation in California was published in the Integrative Cancer Therapies, reporting that dogs can detect breast cancer and lung cancer just by smelling a person’s breath. In this study, there was a remarkably 88% and 97% accuracy in both types of cancer respectively.

These true-to-life accounts and scientific studies give a promising hope that dogs can help us in the early detection and therefore, early treatment of cancer. Certainly, this is a life-changing feat for all of us.

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