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What Your Dog Says About Your Cancer Risk

What Your Dog Says About Your Cancer Risk

A Labrador retriever could be just as effective at detecting cancer as a laboratory, according to ongoing studies that test dogs’ abilities to sniff out cancer in patients.

A recent study found that trained dogs were able to detect prostate cancer in urine with 98 percent accuracy.

Two 3-year-old, female German shepherds were trained at the Italian Ministry of Defense’s Military Veterinary Center using positive reinforcement to recognize prostate cancer-specific volatile organic compounds.

The dogs analyzed more than 400 urine samples, and one dog detected prostate cancer with 100 accuracy, while the second had 98.6 percent accuracy.

However, prostate cancer isn’t the only type of cancer dogs have successfully sniffed out.

Man’s best friends have also proved their noses can detect breast, ovarian, colon, bladder, skin and lung cancer, typically by smelling breath samples.

Cancer causes the body to release certain organic compounds that dogs can smell but people cannot, and scientists hope that researching the phenomenon will help them one day develop an electronic nose that can detect cancer as dogs’ noses can.

With 220 million olfactory cells in their snouts — compared with a mere 50 million in a human nose — it’s estimated that a dog’s sense of smell is up to a million times better than ours.

In addition to scientific studies, there’s also anecdotal evidence that dogs can detect cancer.

Numerous dog owners tell stories of their pets persistently sniffing or nudging an area of their body that later turned out to harbor a tumor.

Such was the case for Maureen Burns, whose 9-year-old collie mix, Max, started acting strangely. Her dog would insistently sniff her breast and back off with what Burns called a “sad look in his eyes.”

Burns did have a small lump in her breast, but her mammogram had been clear. But as Max’s peculiar behavior persisted, she returned to the doctor and asked for a biopsy.

Doctors were surprised to learn the lump was cancerous.

article by Laura Moss

Photo: Bart Hiddink/flickr

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Kara, selected from Mother Nature Network

Mother Nature Network's mission is to help you improve your world. From covering the latest news on health, science, sustainable business practices and the latest trends in eco-friendly technology, MNN.com strives to give you the accurate, unbiased information you need to improve your world locally, globally, and personally – all in a distinctive thoughtful, straightforward, and fun style.

86 comments

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6:32AM PDT on Jul 20, 2014

Thank you :)

11:06PM PDT on Jun 7, 2014

Dogs are amazing.

7:30PM PDT on May 26, 2014

My dog doesn't say anything. He just grins and brings me a toy to throw.

7:17AM PDT on May 25, 2014

Interesting, thank you

2:55AM PDT on May 25, 2014

Cette nouvelle est fascinante. Merci pour ces informations.

1:58AM PDT on May 25, 2014

ty

9:19PM PDT on May 24, 2014

Thanks for sharing. Dogs are just awesome!

5:22PM PDT on May 24, 2014

My dog is great at sniffing out chocolate!

11:12AM PDT on May 24, 2014

This is great! Yeah for dogs and how they help us!

10:17AM PDT on May 24, 2014

God bless Maureen and Max! Dogs are amazing!

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