A dog can detect the smell of a drop of blood in an Olympic size swimming pool. That is how sensitive dogs are to smell. Humans can smell cancer through their own breath in later stages, so it makes sense that dogs can smell cancer in humans at stage zero. Stage zero cancer detection is an astonishing miracle, and to date, has only been accomplished by canine.
The stories started about 25 years ago when a woman who owned a border collie mix, had mole on her leg. The dog started to fixate on the mole. It escalated in the following weeks from the dog licking the mole to the dog actually biting at it, as if to remove it. The woman became concerned and finally went to see a doctor to discover the mole had turned into malignant melanoma. Many other similar stories have been reported since; stories of dogs alerting their owners of all sorts of medical problems from minor diseases to every type of cancer.
This video tells a story from Last year. A dog detected cancer in his owner that a scan and mammogram had missed.
In cases where dogs were involved in alerting their owners of cancer, it is usually detected early enough to be treatable. The sooner the diagnosis, the greater the chance for a positive outcome.
The In Situ Foundation is a non-profit organization whose goal is to provide low cost, non-invasive cancer detection screening for the general public using and training dogs for medical scent detection. They collaborate with universities, doctors, researchers and scientists in studies and helping with research. They hope to raise awareness of early cancer detection though canine scent detection. Most of the dogs used by the non-profit organization In Situ, are high drive dogs that have been rescued from death row. The accuracy is 88-99% and the dogs have to go through pretty rigorous training to be able to do this. Their 5 dog team consists of; a German Shepherd, Australian Shepherd, Shepherd/Lab mix, Beagle and Belgian Malinois. Mix breeds dogs containing any combination of these, as well as many others, could also be effective for medical scent detection.
Due to the rigorous training involved and ongoing research, they currently do not have any type of certification programs for cancer scent detecting dogs.
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