Can Dogs Detect Cancer?


The medical profession is working hard to find ways to diagnose cancer earlier in an attempt to save more lives. One of the most incredible and amazing cancer fighting solutions is man’s best friend, the dog. The olfactory part of a dog’s nose can be compared to a sheet of typing paper while a human’s olfactory section, only the size of a postal stamp. Dogs have far more smelling receptors than any other domesticated animal, and humans. It wasn’t too long ago that it was discovered dogs could even sniff cancer. In 2003, a study was done on five dogs to see if dogs could detect cancer. According to researchers at the In Situ Foundation, during the three month study, the five dogs passed the test with a score of 98 percent.

The Dog and Scent Samples

The researchers took cancer samples on pieces of wool and placed the wool into plastic tubes. Some of the tubes contained only bodily fluid on the wool samples. The dogs were tested to see if they could distinguish the organic compounds from the normal body fluid. As far as the dogs were concerned, they were learning to distinguish different breath samples. Leading up to the dog the dog determining the cancer smell, he was tested with all types of scents, including dog food, toothpaste, cigarettes, and more. As the study progressed, more types of cancer scents were introduced to the dogs, so they could determine a larger amount of cancer cells. Once each dog became aware of a myriad amount of cancer cells, the researchers would train each dog to focus on a particular cancer type. Each dog would either paw at the tube, bark, or lay down in order to let the researcher know that the dog detected the specific type of cancer sample.

The Double Blind Test

Because the dogs did a wonderful job in the initial breath sample test, they were able to quickly enter the double blind test. The dogs and their owners’ identifies were kept secret. Each handler and dog was identified by a case number. The cancer scent testing was repeated many times. The dogs got better and better at picking out the cancer filled wool. Many dogs have learned to detect cancer at stage zero, precancerous conditions.

Stage 0 Cancer

Stage 0 cancer, in breast cancer, for example, may not have a lump that can be felt in the breast. It is usually found by a biopsy during a breast exam and requires only observation. Until recently, some cancer researchers have discovered that dogs can sniff out this cancer. Many women who own dogs, noticed one day these animals acted differently. During a breast exam, these women discovered they had stage 0 breast cancer.

Dogs Saving Lives and Giving Laughs

Now if that doesn’t convince you to get your own pooch, you must at least admit that dogs are way more intelligent than we could have ever imagined. Not only that! They are sweet, funny, goofy and brave. We all know that laughter is the best medicine, so why not check out these cute puppies – Laugh away!