Dogs are Key to Saving People with Cancer

Dogs are Key to Saving People with Cancer

Last update: 07 July, 2018

There are more and more stories that tell us about dogs with the ability to save their owners and others, from cancer. In this article, we will tell you why dogs are key at detecting diseases and how to pay attention to this.

Ted, the dog that “smelled” his owner’s cancer

We know that pets give their lives for us. We hear about dogs who save children from fire or floods. Or those who rescue abandoned babies or attack a delinquent to prevent robbery. But, it still sounds strange to us that a dog has the ability to tell his owner that he has an illness.

You will like this beautiful story, and it will make you realize why dogs really are man’s best friend.

Ted is a Border Collie and lives in Stockton, England. Josie Conlan, a 46-year-old woman, adopted him. The dog suffered from puppy abuse and therefore his personality is still withdrawn and shy.

Josie was used to small lumps in her chest and thought they were common and harmless. But one day Ted’s attitude changed: he kept sniffing the area and whining loudly. Since the dog continued this activity, Josie decided to go and see her doctor. Tests indicated that she had breast cancer. The good news is that, since it was detected early, they were able to act quickly and remove the tumor.

According to the Josie, “Ted is the best gift that life could give to our family (she is married and has two daughters). He thanks us every day because we saved him, and that is why he saved me from this disease.”

More cases of cancer “sniffing” dogs

therapy for prisoners with dogs

Ted is not the only pup to detect something in his owner’s body. In 1989, a woman arrived at King’s College Hospital in London and asked for a doctor to examine a mole on her leg. She said that her dog would sniff the area and bark. It was a malignant melanoma, in the initial stage and was removed without complication.

Claire Guest was 45 years old when her dog, a Fox Red Lab, discovered that she had breast cancer. He stared at her and would pounce on her chest. This led her to check herself, where she found a small bump.

As the cases are decisive, a group of doctors (for people and animals) decided to train two dogs to sniff people and indicate if they had cancer.

This is how Charlie (a German Shepherd) and Alfie (a Labradoodle) became the Californian experts. They dedicate themselves to recognizing diseases through scent.

Cancer detection dogs

It is good to know that dogs have more than two hundred million olfactory receptors in their noses (people only have 5 million). This is why dogs detect smells up to one hundred thousand times more than humans. Alfie and Charlie are being trained to detect 2 types of cancer: ovarian and breast cancer.

The noses of both dogs are responsible for sniffing out a specific molecular compound of the disease. Although scientists cannot differentiate this, animals recognize it without problems.

In England, there is another group of scientists and doctors. They are training dogs to have the ability to detect volatile or organic chemical compounds. Normally found in people with this disease.

In the case of prostate cancer, the animal will smell the patient’s urine. For bowel cancer, it is stool samples and, for lung cancer, their breath.

According to the British Medical Journal, the labrador participating in the experiment, experiences 95% accuracy in breath samples and 98% accuracy with urine and stool samples.

All the patients who had cancer were in the initial stage.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.