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It's Official: Dogs Can Actually Smell Cancer.

With over 220 million olfactory cells, the canine nose is over four times stronger than the human nose. This is why dogs have been so helpful to us in search and rescue missions, drug detection, explosive detection and now, even cancer detection.

McBaine is a regal-looking dog with attentive eyes that is part of a research held in the University of Pennsylvania. Researchers say he, and others like him, are over 90 percent successful in identifying the scent of ovarian cancer, found in tissue samples. Discoveries like this sheds new light on a disease that has no effective test for early detection, and kills 14,000 Americans a year. Past studies have found that cancer-sniffing dogs can also detect prostate cancer by smelling urine samples, with 98 percent accuracy.


There are even examples of this amazing ability in the real world like Max, the dog that smelled his owner's breast cancer.

Despite these findings and stories, there is still some skepticism whether this method can be used on a large scale. As a result, most current research is focusing on how to copy the canine ability to smell the disease, either with a machine or a chemical test. When the dogs "smell cancer", what they really smell are the chemicals emitted by the tumor which are called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.

The hope of chemists, doctors and physicists is to create an "electronic nose" to mimic this ability. This method is preferred because using dogs in a clinical setting isn't very practical. In addition, they take a long time to train and their effectiveness can vary from breed to breed, and from dog to dog.


Even if dogs will never be officially used as medical "cancer sniffers" their ability is still truly remarkable. It's another reminder that they are called "man's best friend" for a good reason.

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Related Topics: dogs, health, cancer, McBaine, smell
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