Cancer-Sniffing Dogs: How Do They Do That?

Can dogs detect cancer? Cancer survivors may want to offer some of their gratitude to their loyal and loving cancer detection dogs. They should extend extra kisses of thanks to their dogs’ noses.

Cancer Detecting Dogs

How Do Dogs Detect Cancer?

A dog’s sense of smell is substantially keener than that of its human family members. This is due to a larger nasal cavity, millions of olfactory receptors and a developed Jacobson’s organ, all of which work together with the dog’s brain to process scents that are completely undetectable to the human’s inferior nose. A dog’s sense of smell is what makes them effective cancer-sniffing dogs.

Scent of A Biological Problem

When the human body undergoes changes, chemical composition alters as well. This is how dogs are able to detect when a diabetic’s blood sugar level is approaching a precariously low level or when an epileptic is moments away from going into a seizure. Patients with such medical conditions utilize service dogs that are trained to detect these changes in their everyday lives, and the dogs’ ability to sense when something is amiss prompts them to warn and protect owners from potentially dangerous situations. Find out why you should never pet a service dog on duty here!

Cancer-Sniffing Dogs

When healthy cells undergo mutations and divide unusually quickly, they emit chemical waste that differs from the waste that was shed by the cells when they were healthy. These chemical alterations are the scents that cancer-sniffing dogs pick up. In various research settings, dogs have repeatedly demonstrated the ability to detect these chemical changes at the earliest stage of cancer development. These scents can be detected on a human’s breath, in urine and, in some cases, on skin.

Watch this video: The Secret Weapon for Cancer Detection: DOGS!

Fine Tuning Cancer Detection

A dog’s profound ability to detect cancer merely by sniffing may yield a significant impact on the future of cancer detection. In cancer research facilities, dogs are being trained to hone in on specific cancers, including prostate cancer, lung cancer, bowel cancer, breast cancer, melanoma and bladder cancer. Surprisingly, many types of cancer carry their own unique scents. It is the goal of scientists to utilize what they can learn from the research dogs’ performances to create cancer detection diagnostic tools, such as breathalyzers that can indicate the chemical changes of cancer.

Abide By Physicians, Listen to Dogs

There are numerous anecdotes of human cancer patients whose dogs spent unusual amounts of time licking, sniffing and fixating on particular parts of their bodies. When these people turned to their physicians, the explanations panned out to be the presence of cancer. Scientific studies in multiple settings have shown that a dog can sniff out cancer with between 90 and 98 percent accuracy. However, this by no means is a green light to steer clear of your physician’s recommended routine cancer screening tests. Likewise, if you are experiencing any new symptoms, you must abide by your physician’s diagnostic recommendations.

In addition to following your doctor’s health care guidelines, it is not unreasonable to consider your dog as a supplemental diagnostic tool. If your dog suddenly starts to obsess with any part of your body, including your mouth or nose when you breathe, or if you notice a change in your dog’s attitude toward you that includes anxious or particularly attentive behavior, then you should consider scheduling a checkup with your doctor. You may feel silly when you explain the reason for your office visit to the physician, but listening to your dog’s potential warning may save your life.

Heroic dogs: meet these dogs who have saved people.

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