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Can Dogs Sniff Out Early Cancer Signs?


All diseases have a distinctive smell, and nobody’s better at hunting smells than dogs.

Do you love dogs? If you need any more reasons to love these furry animals even more, we’ve got one right now: a study published by Experimental Biology earlier this month revealed that dogs could apparently ‘sniff out’ early cancer signs in humans. This knowledge could potentially be used to delay or prevent the development of late-stage cancer.

According to study’s abstract, “dogs have smell receptors 10,000 times more accurate than humans’, making them highly sensitive to odors we can’t perceive.” In the study, four participating dogs used their heightened sense of smell to select which blood samples are from cancer patients from a pool of blood samples. Surprisingly, the results showed an astounding 97% accuracy. It turns out that since cancer involves cellular mutation, there are biological changes happening within the body that can also affect the blood. Dogs can detect this biological change through odor and accurately tell the difference between normal blood or blood from a person with cancer.

“Although there is currently no cure for cancer, early detection offers the best hope of survival,” lead researcher Heather Junqueira says. “A highly sensitive test for detecting cancer could potentially save thousands of lives and change the way the disease is treated.”

She also emphasizes that the results could possibly lead to “new cancer-screening approaches that are inexpensive and accurate without being invasive”.

Junquiera presented the research at the annual meeting for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology held last April 6-9 in Orlando, Florida, specifically during the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting.