Is Your Canine a Cancer Sleuth

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Is Your Canine a Cancer Sleuth

by Valerie Slaughter

In the next few minutes you are going to be amazed what your "Fido" may be capable of!

Unbelievable as it may sound dogs can be trained to sniff out cancer. There have been many stories about dogs sniffing out cancer in their owners.

The most notable story was reported in the prestigious medical journal, Lancet, in 1989. A female patient went to her doctor to have a mole on her thigh looked at after her pet dog would often spend several minutes sniffing at a particular mole on her body. Her dog, a mix between a border collie and a Doberman, ignored any other mole on her body. In fact one day when she was wearing shorts, her dog actually tried to bite the mole off!

The results of her testing showed that the mole was a malignant melanoma.

Doctors Hywel Williams and Andres Pembroke stated "The dog may have saved her owner's life by forcing her to seek medical advice while the mole was still at a thin (noninvasive) stage."

This is not the first time that "Fido" saved its owner's life. There have been many reports how dogs sniffed out breast and lung cancer in their owners.

Now that researchers have proved, scientifically, that dogs can spot cancer, researchers at Amersham Hospital in England hope to build a tool as good or better than your own pet's nose.

"Using sniffer doges to detect the minute traces of molecules associated with cancer is a fascinating concept" said Cancer Research UK's Professor, David Neal.

Dogs, with their exceptional sense of smell, have been trained to sniff out certain odors produced by cancer cells. In fact, during one training to determine bladder cancer, all of the dogs signaled a particular patient as positive for bladder cancer. However, this patient had been screened prior to the test and was determined to be cancer free.

Concerned by all of the dog's behavior the researchers decided to do further tests on the patient. Surprisingly these additional tests revealed that the patient had a tumor in their right kidney. This was totally missed in conventional medical tests!

Dr. Armand Cognetta of Tallahassee, Florida, an expert in melanomas, began researching if dogs could detect skin cancer. He enlisted the help of a dog trainer, and with samples of melanomas tried to train dogs to sniff out skin cancer. George, the dog used in the study, was able to detect the melanoma 99% of the time. Further research proved that George could detect malignant melanoma lesions from benign lesions on patients successfully.

So the next time your Fido starts paying a little too much attention to a certain part of your body, take Dr. Fido's advice and get immediate medical attention. Fido may just have saved your life!

Valerie Slaugher, Veteran Marathoner and author of "You Want To Do What!?, trained with her dog, Sam. For more articles and tips about taking care of your Fido, visit:

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