Dogs Know When You Have Cancer

You might have heard this before but I still think it's incredible.  Dogs can sniff out cancer.

A new study in Pennsylvania has found that dogs can actually smell ovarian cancer.  Sounds scary (and kind of gross), but "Researchers trying to develop a diagnostic tool for ovarian cancer are hoping dogs' keen sense of smell will lead them down the right path," according to an AP story.

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania's Working Dog Center have developed a simple test using blood and tissue samples donated by patients, then training three canines to "sniff out the signature compound that indicates the presence of ovarian cancer."

If the animals can isolate the chemical marker, scientists at the nearby Monell Chemical Senses Center will work to create an electronic sensor to identify the same odor, the Kathy Matheson at the AP reports.

"Because if the dogs can do it, then the question is, Can our analytical instrumentation do it? We think we can," Monell organic chemist George Preti told Matheson.

The reason this would be so important with this disease is that, of the 20,000 women diagnosed with it every year, over 14,000 will die. That's because the cancer is caught 70% of the time after it has spread.  However, if it's caught early, 90% will survive.  I have a friend who is living a happy, healthy life after being diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer six years ago. Probably the cancer was not staged correctly but there's no mistaking that she's alive and well, and just celebrated her daughter's wedding this summer.

Ovarian cancer is so deadly because its symptoms -- constipation and bloating -- are often thought to be just that, minor discomforts that will go away.

Matheson notes that the Philadelphia researchers will build on previous work showing that early stage ovarian cancer alters odorous compounds in the body. Another study in Britain in 2004 demonstrated that dogs could identify bladder cancer patients by smelling their urine.

Dana Zaphiris writes at In Situ Foundation that dogs can sniff out just about any change in our bodies, including cuts, and she puts it down to a quite selfish thing, actually.   She says that dogs worry that if we're sick or hurt, that may affect them.  

Researchers are still working on this whole thing but they feel fairly confident they will have an answer soon.


Popular posts from this blog

Think You're Pretty Smart? You May Actually Stink at Visual Skills, Crucial in Today's Digital World

Leave Your Ego at the Door

End Your Texts With a Period? Don't