Dog owners know just how much their four-legged fur babies become members of the family. Most dog owners would do anything to help or save their beloved pet. It turns out, dogs feel the same way about their owners.
The Biology of Cancer Sniffing
Dogs and humans have co-evolved for more than 100,000 years. Dogs have come to rely on humans to provide shelter and food while humans trust dogs to provide protection and assistance in hunting food. According to the InSitu Foundation, evolutionists and biologists believe that humans may never have progressed past the agricultural stage without help from dogs and their noses.
Because dogs rely upon humans for shelter and food, it’s beneficial for dogs to know if their human caretakers are sick. Their powerful noses are put to good use in detecting early warning signs of many illnesses, including cancer. If you’ve ever been around someone with the flu, you know the “sick smell.” Many oncologists have reported a similar smell on the breath of patients in stage three or four. Now, there are studies showing that dogs are able to detect cancer much earlier – even stage zero.
Types of Cancer Detected by Dogs
A study published in the British Medical Journal found that dogs were able to detect bladder cancer based solely on the odor of urine. More than 40 percent of the time, the dogs correctly picked out the scent of bladder cancer from all other compounds and scents found in urine.
Breast and Lung
The Pine Street Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to analyzing medical data to help people with cancer and chronic illnesses make informed decisions. They recently conducted a study which was picked up by Dogs Naturally. The study found that dogs could detect lung and breast cancer on patients’ breath an astonishing 90 percent of the time.
Melanoma (Skin Cancer)
Working with a certified dog trainer, dermatologist Dr. Armand Cognetta was able to train dogs to detect skin cancer 99 percent of the time. Even more astonishing, the dog was able to tell the difference between benign lesions and malignant ones when presented with both.
The discomfort and embarrassment of a routine colon cancer screening may become a thing of the past if this study out of Japan proves to be repeatable. The study looked at 200 people with colon cancer and found that the dog was able to detect early and late stage malignancies with 97 percent accuracy – that’s 25 percent more accurate than the fecal occult blood tests currently used.
In a European study, a team of researchers used two dogs and urine samples of 320 men with prostate cancer. For the control, they used urine samples from 357 men without prostate cancer. The team found that the dogs were able to detect prostate cancer at any stage of the disease with 98 percent accuracy.