home
RSS
Growing body of research says dogs really can smell cancer
August 17th, 2011
07:00 PM ET

Growing body of research says dogs really can smell cancer

A new study adds to the body of research suggesting that "man’s best friend" may actually be able to smell cancer.

Researchers in Germany found that dogs were able to pick up on the scent of organic compounds linked to the presence of lung cancer in the human body, and that their keen sense of smell may be useful for the early detection of the disease.

Four family dogs – two  German shepherds, one Australian shepherd and one Labrador retriever – smelled test tubes containing breath samples of 220 patients, both those with lung cancer and those without it. The dogs were trained to lie down in front of the test tubes where they smelled lung cancer and touch the vial with their noses. According to the study, the dogs successfully identified lung cancer in 71 out of 100 patients with the disease.

And that’s not all. Researchers also tested patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. “COPD is quite common in patients with lung cancer and we were not sure if the dogs could tell the difference between both diseases,” explains Enole Boedeker, an author on the study who practices general thoracic surgery in Stuttgart, Germany. “The dogs could recognize the cancer sample as easily as between the breath samples of the healthy study participants,” Boedeker says. The study is published in the European Respiratory Journal.

Living with COPD?  Take a breathing health test

This isn’t the first study to use dogs’ heightened sense of smell to identify disease in humans. Over the years researchers have theorized that cancer may actually have a detectable scent - cancer cells may produce chemical compounds that circulate throughout the body and can be breathed out of the lungs in a gaseous form. The use of canine scent to detect these compounds has shown promise in sniffing out breast cancer, bowel cancer, colon cancer, COPD and lung cancer, and even type 1 diabetes.

“This is probably the most sophisticated study I've seen on this topic,” says Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. Lichtenfeld has been following research on sniffer dogs and blogged about the topic for ACS. “More and more studies are reinforcing the possibility that this is very real,” he says.

But don’t expect to see Fido in the office the next time you visit the doctor; the future clinical implications remain unknown.

“We've seen this happen enough to suggest there are compounds in the breath of patients with cancer that could provide an early warning about he presence of cancer in the body, but we still do not know exactly what those compounds are,” Lichtenfeld says. “We can’t pick out what the dogs smell.”

Researchers say sniffer dogs are a promising “detection device,” but more studies are needed to help identify the specific detectable markers in order to create screening methods.

“Unfortunately,” the study authors conclude, “dogs cannot communicate the biochemistry of the scent of cancer.”


soundoff (285 Responses)
  1. Sandy

    That would be vial, not vile.

    August 18, 2011 at 07:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Majestic_Lizard

      The sample group is not large enough and 71 out of 100 is not statistically significant. Random chance and any number factors could account for it. This is not science.

      August 18, 2011 at 09:29 | Report abuse |
    • ldean50

      llizard man: 71 out of a hundred is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay beyond the statistical average of "random."

      August 18, 2011 at 09:36 | Report abuse |
    • James

      "71 out of 100 is not statistically significant"

      Magestic_Lizard: What test did you run on the data? Wilcoxon signed-rank?

      August 18, 2011 at 09:41 | Report abuse |
    • futurelawyer2005

      Scientists have known for years that rats can also smell 100s of different types of cancers. Their noses are even more sensitive than dogs.

      August 18, 2011 at 10:54 | Report abuse |
    • High School Graduate

      ldean/james - lizard is 100% correct, as anybody who graduated HIGH SCHOOL (and took any science courses besides "dumb kid/english major science") could tell you.

      August 18, 2011 at 11:06 | Report abuse |
    • Geode

      Actually, as one who has taken graduate level statistics, it is impossible without having seen the raw data to determine whether or not 71/100 is statistically significant, and is also dependent on their confidence level (P<.05 is much easier to achieve than P<.001, etc). Without evidence to the contrary, i believe the authors of this study probably conducted the appropriate statistical tests (whether its a T-test, ANOVA, Wilcoxon, or whatever). Don't just proclaim something is or is not significant by eyeballing a ratio. Look at the raw data before you draw your own conclusions, and take the authors at their word if it's published in a peer-reviewed journal until that point. That is the fundamental tenet that all science is built on. Trust AND verify.

      August 18, 2011 at 11:22 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff S

      3 Cheers (within a standard deviation, of course) for Geode! Its nice to see reason utilized in a message board, despite the presence all of the self-appointed experts.

      August 18, 2011 at 11:32 | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      71% is significant, but from a small sample. You are all both right. But, taking into consideration previous studies and the known strength of canine sense of smell. It is absolutely plausible they can sense cancer and this is why it deserves further research and studies which would increase the sample size. If this all turns out to be true, then some sort of bio-sensor or a new type of blood test could be developed to test for cancers.

      August 18, 2011 at 11:36 | Report abuse |
    • I Read Better

      You all failed reading class and the most basic principle of math. READ THE QUESTION FIRST. 71/100 is significant because the dog chose 71/100 of the CORRECT samples.... But the total sample rate was 220. so out of 220 chances, the dog technically got 171/220 correct. It identified 71 of the 100 that WERE in fact infected and by reading the article carefully you can assume that it did not identify the other 120 samples as cancer containing. My calculator tells me that means it got 77.% correct. Now... If I had any indication at all that I might have a reason to think I have this disease, I'll take an animal that guesses correctly 77% of the time over a physician that cannot tell at all until it progresses to a certain stage any day. I'd rather know earlier than later.

      August 18, 2011 at 11:53 | Report abuse |
    • TL

      To I Read Better – Good point; Another little statistical sore point -false positives – of the 120 neg samples left, how many were picked by the dogs as positive? No mention of that.

      August 18, 2011 at 12:11 | Report abuse |
    • Eric of Reseda

      @Majestic Lizard – Clearly, you're not a scientists. First, 100 IS a valid sampling. You want to keep building a body of evidence, but the fact is, the scientific process is fully engaged even if they had tested one, and that's because the scientific process begins BEFORE you do the actual tests. The tests merely prove or disprove a theory. And you indeed start with one, then test another, and another and so on...Second, saying that the dogs ID'd over TWICE as many cases of cancer correctly than they got it wrong absolutely statistically significant!!! What, do you have some sort of agenda that wants to debunk possible ways to detect cancer, even when it includes using an instrument – a dog's nose – known to be a near miracle of nature in it's abilities to detect any number of things?

      August 18, 2011 at 12:12 | Report abuse |
  2. MValenti

    We believe we have Jack Russell with this unique gift. At one point we had three dogs and prior their passing our Jack Russell spent a great deal of time trying to grooming them. When Luciano did this the first time to our beloved Cara she was later diagnosed with cancer. We thought it was touching that he wanted to take care of her so mjch. A few years later, Luciano took to cleaning Fredo constantly. We thought it was strange but and a feeling something was up and took Fredo to the doctor. Fredo was also diagnosed with cancer and passed away a few months later. Now we warn people that if Luciano starts licking you excessively, you may want to get it checked out.

    August 18, 2011 at 07:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dr Sanford Pankin DVM

      Is that "Lucky" Luciano?

      August 18, 2011 at 07:54 | Report abuse |
    • Bhoss

      maybe your Jack is giving the cancer? still a talent but not as sweet.

      August 18, 2011 at 08:25 | Report abuse |
    • John

      If I were you I'd have a radon test done. Perhaps bring in someone to test your home for radioactivity. Better to be safe than sorry.

      August 18, 2011 at 08:27 | Report abuse |
    • Chirs

      John, Radon is not radioactivity, it is a gas. A result from the breakdown of radon. Yes, it causes lung cancer, but it is not radioactive.

      August 18, 2011 at 09:36 | Report abuse |
    • LovesJacks

      Jack Russells have alot of hidden talent! I have a Jack that is the smartest dog I've ever owned, and I've had several. I fully believe there is something to this. Our Jack did the same licking thing to our cat. She died a few months later of cancer as well.

      August 18, 2011 at 09:37 | Report abuse |
    • drk5036

      Radon IS a gas, which is radioactive. It has a half-life of 3.8 days, and is a carcinogen.

      August 18, 2011 at 09:57 | Report abuse |
    • pkt1153@yahoo.com

      @Chris – Radon IS radioactive. It is a radioactive gas produced from the breakdown of minute amounts of uranium that is present in the soil.

      August 18, 2011 at 10:05 | Report abuse |
    • Caca Coo

      I didn't know it until this day, it was not Luciano or Fredo. It was Barzini all along.

      August 18, 2011 at 10:18 | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      @ Chris - Umm...lol. Doesn't it stink to be so loud and so wrong? Radon is very definitely radioactive. Sorry....

      August 18, 2011 at 10:44 | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Ours would sniff, then start licking aching joints on my wife and I. We both have early arthritis and the dogs would always know when we were starting to hurt.

      August 18, 2011 at 13:33 | Report abuse |
  3. bluesky

    If people with cancer emit identifying molecules in their breath, instead of fooling around with dogs, they ought to be developing chemical sensors to detect the presence of "cancer breath". An inexpensive, non-intrusive medical test would be great.

    August 18, 2011 at 07:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Canine

      They do not fool aroud, you idiot, they try to learn from them.people fooled around with herbs for thousands of years and this is why they where able later to sinthetise and concentrated many of our useful drugs.read abook, cretin !

      August 18, 2011 at 08:14 | Report abuse |
    • Vy

      but we still do not know exactly what those compounds are,” Lichtenfeld says. “We can’t pick out what the dogs smell.”

      "Researchers say sniffer dogs are a promising “detection device,” but more studies are needed to help identify the specific detectable markers in order to create screening methods.

      “Unfortunately,” the study authors conclude, “dogs cannot communicate the biochemistry of the scent of cancer.”

      Once they figure out exactly what the compounds that the dogs are smelling, they will be able to do that. he clearly states that and the end of the article.

      August 18, 2011 at 08:18 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      The whole point of the article was just that. They think but not sure for now. So you wasted my time reading this.

      August 18, 2011 at 09:13 | Report abuse |
    • BridgetheGap

      To develop such a sensor, if possible, would be astronomical in cost. The military has been trying to replicate a dog's sense of smell for decades. Sometimes mother nature just does things better than a machine. What I am surprised about is how little the General Public knows and understands about science and research. Most scientific discoveries come from observing things in nature and trying to replicate them in a machine. Claiming that these guys are just "fooling around," is just so uninformed.

      August 18, 2011 at 09:34 | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      There are sensors being developed in Cleveland that take a spectrograph of the chemicals emitted by breath, but this sensor is not as accurate as a dog's nose. The olfactory sense in some animals is much more sensitive than humans, and more sensitive than a machine. But the spectrograph is on the right track: when humans put information into color, we use our better visual senses to see much more information. It isn't fooling around, but it is years before this diagnostic tool will be allowed by the F.D.A. As it is now, only our space scientists and chemists use gas chromatographs to tell what compounds may be on a star or planet; it's nice to see chemical science actually enter the field of medicine.

      August 18, 2011 at 11:30 | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      OK, they'll stop "fooling around" with dogs and simply make guesses, as has been done for centuries.
      Why research and LEARN what can be detected reliably, then ascertain WHAT compounds are being emitted? They can just GUESS what is going on.

      August 18, 2011 at 13:35 | Report abuse |
    • JeramieH

      > To develop such a sensor, if possible, would be astronomical in cost. The military has been trying to replicate a dog's sense of smell for decades

      You don't have to develop the entire spectrum of a dog's sense of smell, you just identify the one compound in lung cancer and create a single device to check for that one compound. No more fancy than a breathalyzer once you isolate which compound they're picking up on.

      August 18, 2011 at 13:43 | Report abuse |
  4. jimmymax

    Sounds like Luciano was giving everyone else cancer.

    August 18, 2011 at 07:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Dr Sanford Pankin DVM

    It would seem at 70+ percent dogs are as efficient as standard testing practices currently in use.I have a cat who can detect toenail fungus before it's visible and differentiate between edible mushrooms and poisonous ones.

    August 18, 2011 at 07:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Josh

      Good use for any cat. Feed them some mushrooms. If they die, you know it was poisonous.

      August 18, 2011 at 09:33 | Report abuse |
    • SeattleRain

      About in 1999, I went to a dermatologist during my lunch hour because of a tiny mole on my upper right arm. She didn't think much of it and was leaving the room when I told her my two dogs were "fixated" with it and would stick their noses on it and hold perfectly still for a long time as if smelling something weird. She called her staff in and immediately took the mole off. She wouldn't even let me reschedule removal for later. I was late for work and the boss thought I was making up the story about the dogs behavior making the doctor remove it on the spot.

      August 18, 2011 at 09:57 | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      Seattle: you had a smart doctor who might have saved your life.

      August 18, 2011 at 11:32 | Report abuse |
  6. bob

    dogs are cool

    August 18, 2011 at 08:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • vegan

      Way cooler than cats.

      August 18, 2011 at 11:53 | Report abuse |
  7. RichG

    My dog's better than your dog! He can tell the difference between great beer and stank beer. He will not drink Bud but loves any imported dark beer.

    August 18, 2011 at 08:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • James

      Oh come on now, we all know that if it's a hot day and the only beer around is Bud he'll still drink it...

      August 18, 2011 at 10:19 | Report abuse |
    • paula

      Our older Rotti Max only drinks Mexican beer.. We always thought it was funny... Recently I tore my acl and meniscus in my knee, every time I go out side he sniffs that knee... I wonder why and I think he knows something is wrong. I wonder how he will react after my surgery.

      August 18, 2011 at 11:41 | Report abuse |
  8. Drew

    So cool! That Star Trek medical device is really becoming more plausible every few years... Just breathe on it and it'll know what's wrong thanks to indirect studies like this - love it.

    August 18, 2011 at 08:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Hear Ye

    Best argument yet for tossing out the useless cat and getting a dog,
    Cats are, afterall, dogfood.

    August 18, 2011 at 08:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Poseidon

      Cats are good at predicting who is going to die soon in the household.

      August 18, 2011 at 09:12 | Report abuse |
    • Its Cats

      You seem to forget that cats are a lot smarter and cleaner than smelly ol' dogs! A cat will ask to go outside when they need to relieve themselves and will dig a hole, do his business and then cover it up. While a dog would just as soon mess up your house in the process with no sense of guilt during or after the act. And cleanliness is next to Godliness. So, give proper credit to cats who are also known to be quite intuitive and have helped many in the process of obtaining much needed answers to questions. And cats also bathe and groom themselves unlike the unkempt nasty dogs who require a bath or they begin to stink!

      August 18, 2011 at 09:49 | Report abuse |
    • James

      Ah yes, those wonderful 'clean cats' of your's. I especially agree with you when I go out and find all my mulch beds dug up, filled green flies buzzing around your animals crap and my laundry and cushions stinking like musk from the male spraying all over the place. Think again slick...

      August 18, 2011 at 10:21 | Report abuse |
    • Cats Suck

      @Its Cats

      Speak for yourself, my roommates cat always smells bad, never cleans itself, wipes its as* on the carpet, and cant even hit the litterbox when relieving himself.

      August 18, 2011 at 10:25 | Report abuse |
    • BILBO BOOMERBOTTOM

      Dogs drool;cats rule!

      August 18, 2011 at 10:27 | Report abuse |
    • vegan

      Cats meow, dogs prowl.

      August 18, 2011 at 11:54 | Report abuse |
    • Kt

      @Its Cats
      You have had some amazing cats in your time and rare ones to I imagine. I've had both cats AND dogs (3 dogs & 2 cats) in my time and found that the dogs were the ones that always asked to go out & ALWAYS looked guilty if they did anything that was construed as "bad" by the family (ie toileting in the house, chewing, raiding the bin etc) they were also very clean and very wonderful companions. Now the 2 cats I had were also wonderful dont get me wrong but if I wasn't up as first wake up nip (the older one would nip my toes to wake me up and let him out if my feet were hanging out of the bed) he had no issue of pooping wherever I could smell it but not find it for almost a whole day. He also ruined some of my most favourite clothes/bedsheets near the washing machine by crapping on them and then covering it up and HE showed no shame or remorse.
      Also while cats may cover up their cr@p have you ever seen one actually actively stop & clean themselves before walking all over your kitchen counter tops? Are you sure that in the morning before they come and place their paw or nose on your sleeping face they weren't not minutes before in their litter tray doing their business?

      If you say yes then you are a liar, cats are no more cleaner then dogs in my opinion. Both great pets/companions in their own way but neither are truly cleaner then the other.

      August 18, 2011 at 18:12 | Report abuse |
  10. Fred

    The medical profession has known that dogs have been able to detect the smell of skin cancer for years. Bluesky – the cost of developing an "inexpensive, non-intrusive medical test" would be enormous compared to what it would cost to train dogs. Who cares if "dogs cannot communicate the biochemistry of the scent of cancer" – can any human being or machine smell any type of cancer at all? The fact that they can smell any type of cancer is SO much more advanced than anything we have right now. I am no conspiracy theorist but in this instance one has to wonder about the medical industry suppressing this knowledge to protect their financial interests – especially here in the U.S.

    August 18, 2011 at 08:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elizabeth

      People know about it, but each and every dog would have to be tested first to make sure that they are capable of this. But even that would cost much much less than even one expensive machine. It is something that the FDA would have to approve (and set guidelines of training and testing for), but BRING IT ON. Instead of writing here, write to the FDA. My husband was discovered with stage 3 C colon cancer last September; trust me, you don't want to find out you have cancer at such an advanced stage. He had a colonoscopy that was "clean" only a little more than a year before; those tests are useful, but not 100 percent; the colonoscopy can't see below the surface. The lungs expel lots of chemicals from all over the body: it might have helped if he could have taken a simple breath test to see why he still had such irritable bowel syndrome, instead of waiting until he had an obstruction and lymph node involvement.

      August 18, 2011 at 11:40 | Report abuse |
  11. Sue

    A few years ago, I read about a schnauzer that could tell the difference between melanoma and a harmless mole. Scientists were training the dog to help in early detection...this is not a new concept, but if it could be helpful, it really should be developed.

    August 18, 2011 at 08:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elizabeth

      This sounds like a project for organizations that train service dogs, together with the FDA. If the dogs could be trained and tested for accuracy, they could smell vials of breath. I wouldn't ask a dog to do it all day, but it would cost so much less than an expensive machine. Write to the FDA, because this fact is already known, and they should be already approving guidelines!

      August 18, 2011 at 11:43 | Report abuse |
  12. Oscar98

    I have to assume this was taken into consideration, but were the people with cancer taking any medication or undergoing any treatment for their cancer? Is there a chance the dogs were smelling those things rather than the cancer, itself? Keep in mind I'm a dog lover and would be thrilled to see our furry friends add to their already huge worth this way, however I can't imagine anyone with cancer saying, "Fine, I won't undergo any kind of therapy for this just so we can make sure the dogs are really smelling cancer and not the medications."

    August 18, 2011 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Charley8

      I'd assume they would have taken a sample to use before they started treating the person- otherwise it seems pretty obvious the dogs would be able to smell the chemicals the person is taking and I doubt a group of people would agree to not undergo treatment.

      August 18, 2011 at 09:10 | Report abuse |
    • tadams

      good point!

      August 18, 2011 at 11:46 | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      Often, there is a short time between diagnosis and treatment: it may be a very short time, but vials of breath could be collected then. Dogs also understand some human language, especially body language; the vials must be treated as a double-blind study, with only number labels so that the researcher who works with the dog does not know which is which.

      August 18, 2011 at 11:46 | Report abuse |
  13. Me

    The drug companies don't get paid to train dogs and there is no money in it for them if they cant hit you with tests machines and drugs. Expect this to be repressed as long as possible. A entrepreneur would strike out on their own will well trained dogs. Why not set up a small mobile booth in areas with alot of foot traffic and charge a simple $20 while requiring the "patient" to sign a waiver aknowleging the newness of the concept and release of liability. Everyone wins.

    August 18, 2011 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dan

      Because it's not just the drug companies–the FDA would shut you down licketly split. Just like they told Cheerios that they cannot say "helps lower cholestorol" because even though numerous studies proved that, only DRUGS are allowed to say that.

      August 18, 2011 at 12:42 | Report abuse |
  14. Mary

    I had a dog that was really into breathing my air, went on for 3 years. Then I was diagnosed with lung cancer, had a resection, came home from the hospital, she approached me to smell my "air" (if was not gross rather funny) The lung cancer was gone and so was her interest in my air. She had already died when I first read the possibility that dogs could detect lung cancer, but clearly that was her gift. As I would go for followups, I would check with her first to see if she was interested. Never again and after 11 years, the cancer has not come back.

    August 18, 2011 at 09:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • GEORGE

      I fully agree with u Mary..

      August 18, 2011 at 09:23 | Report abuse |
    • Paula

      My dog insists on smelling my breath every single morning upon waking up. It is a bit gross but it is also hilarious. My husband said for years now that any change in behaviour when she does it means there is something wrong. I am just a bit worried what kind of behaviour she will portray. But it sure is interesting!!! As for all of those sceptics out there...please get a life, If you don't have anything nice to say...then don't say anything at all! Thanks Mary!!!

      August 18, 2011 at 10:51 | Report abuse |
    • Dog lover.

      Such a great story. The DOGS are the best.

      August 18, 2011 at 10:59 | Report abuse |
    • tadams

      that is so cool

      August 18, 2011 at 11:44 | Report abuse |
  15. deed549

    Probably alot of animals can smell alot of things, they do that sort of thing. They also kill people, and bark all night and day so you can't sleep. I sold my retirement home because of constantly barking dogs. Hardly a month goes by without some kind of dog attach occurring somewhere. Locally dogs have killed a few people, one was just a little 4 year old. There's just too many dogs, a serious over-population problem, and probably about 99% of dog owners are irresponsible pet owners, we just see those that are responsible, but we can see the dog road kill almost daily. It's really a National problem, there should be severe restricitons on dogs, and those licenses should cost about $500, enough to pay all the dog people to oversee all those problems that dogs create, and their irresponsible owners. Local people can't do that, obviously, so it probably needs to be addressed on the National level, but they can't do anything either, so we will just live with the dogs, put up with the killing of people, and all the other problems. Just another problem that they can't solve. As far as detecting cancer, we have alot of things that detect cancer, curing cancer is the problem. Too many dogs is really a serious public health problem, maybe not killing as many as cancer, but still killing alot of people. Maybe a Nationwide epedemic would solve the problem, some dog disease, or maybe rabies across the Nation, infecting people, and all the livestock. You know dogs killing people won't do it, we have alot of people, it's dogs that matter, to some. When I was dealing with the barking, vicious, dogs, like a dozen of them, next door, I was thinking about buying a sheep, or a goat, so I could shoot those dogs, as they harassed my livestock, maybe chickens. Instead we just sold the place, now it's someone else's problem, never went back to see how they did. That house next door was vacant when we move in, the doggers moved in after we moved there.

    August 18, 2011 at 09:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ladydi

      STOP YOUR BELLYACHING – ENOUGH OF YOUR BOO-HOOS ALREADY!!!!!!!!!!!!

      August 18, 2011 at 09:31 | Report abuse |
    • GoofProofEmu

      Dogs are not the issue, it is irresponsible owners. It's the owners who do not take the time to train them properly, spay or neuter them, provide proper containment (fenced backyards – please no chained dogs) or just flat out be considerate of their neighbors. Do not blame the dogs! Dogs will be dogs. If they are not given proper guidance, obviously there will be issues. I am an owner of four dogs. They are house dogs but when they are out back (in a fenced yard) and they start barking, their time outside is over. Each dog has been through obedience training and when any behavioural issues have occured that we could not resolve, I got assistance in correcting the matter. During walks, I promptly pick up their droppings. I know one thing, my dogs would give their life for me and love me unconditionally. I can understand your frustration, but your blaming the symptom not the cause.

      August 18, 2011 at 09:51 | Report abuse |
    • Marion

      I am sure the neighbors boo hooed when you left. by the way.....how did you identify the "road kill" as being an animal that was killed by a dog? a car killed whatever it was, not a dog. The stray dogs probably were eating the road kill because they were strays that were starving. Instead of complaining about "killer dogs", maybe you should be more concerned about the millions of strays who are starving on the streets, and DO SOMETHING ABOUT ....THAT...., MORON!!

      August 18, 2011 at 10:01 | Report abuse |
    • Jamie

      People also kill people and the people in my neighborhood play loud music at night, keeping me awake. So what? There are millions and millions of dogs out there and in 2010, there were only 34 fatal dog attacks. Quit your belly-aching You obviously just don't like dogs.

      August 18, 2011 at 10:37 | Report abuse |
    • mdmooser

      Stop this!

      August 18, 2011 at 11:03 | Report abuse |
    • jgrm4

      Cars, trucks, motorcycles, jets, planes, helicopters, construction equipment, etc are all loud and all kill more people each year than dogs. If I had more time the list would go on. Soundproof your house and stay in it Mr. Miserable.

      August 18, 2011 at 11:22 | Report abuse |
    • Larryfort

      I agree with you, deed549. So many profess to love dogs and yet hundreds of thousands are killed every year in shelters alone. The nasty responses you have received to your post show how strange some of this dog love can be. If you love dogs so much, folks, volunteer at a local shelter to spend a day with the dogs to help keep them socialized. And there are lots of charities doing great work to help the abandoned dogs in the country. deed 549 is right. The suffering caused to dogs and problems in the community caused by over population and abandonment of dogs IS a national problem that few self-professed dog lovers are doing anything about.

      August 18, 2011 at 11:27 | Report abuse |
    • letsgomets2011

      Lots of dogs killing people? Holy cow - where's your proof of this? Got link???

      A dog is as vicious as its owner, more or less. ANY dog can be trained to be mean or vicious; it depends on the owner.

      You must have read ONE REPORT and figured "All dogs are bad."

      And if a dog barks constantly, there is a problem. It's separation anxiety, boredom or perhaps the dog is ill. Dogs are like people; they tend to get snappy and snotty when they do not feel well.

      August 18, 2011 at 12:45 | Report abuse |
    • GoodProofEmu

      BTW Larryfort – My dogs are all rescues. Unwanted and abused dogs. I also foster rescues and also volunteer and contribute financially to shelters. I am doing something....are you?

      August 18, 2011 at 12:53 | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Ok. Undoubtedly the most ignorant thing I've ever read. Congradulations on that noble accomplishment.

      And......I'm pretty sure that my border collie has better grammar than you.

      August 18, 2011 at 14:02 | Report abuse |
  16. NoTags

    Give the dogs a white coat and let them open a practice. They sure as hell wouldn't charge what some of these quacks we have today charge. Just a box of dog biscuits and maybe a bone would make the dogs happy.

    August 18, 2011 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Marion

      funny post. thanks for the visual of a dog in a white coat treating patients. I am sure the dog would actually "listen" to me too. LOL

      August 18, 2011 at 10:03 | Report abuse |
    • GetAGrip

      Hey, if they can play poker...

      August 18, 2011 at 10:15 | Report abuse |
    • Kt

      ah but they'd be "doctors" so they'd be playing golf not poker ;0)

      August 18, 2011 at 18:20 | Report abuse |
  17. ldean50

    I had two Labradors, Maggie and Morgan. We had a ritual every night when they would lay down on their beds in the living room, I'd cover them up . . . etc. I had a symptom (without getting personal) that I chalked up to going through menopause. One night Maggie & Morgan came to my room. Morgan lay down next to my bed, near my head, and Maggie sat like a guard in the doorway. I thought it was weird, but fell asleep. I wake up in the middle of the night and they are still there, but they've changed places. Three weeks . . . this went on for three weeks regardless of any cajoling on my part. Intuitively, I recalled Animal Planet show about dogs/cancer and studies going on at Duke University. "No, I thougtht, couldn't be-nobody in my family"... go to gynecologist . . . . uterine/ovarian cancer . . . complete hysterectomy. Go home. First night . . . Maggie and Morgan go back to their beds in the living room.. The doctor told me I would have been at Stage 4 within the year. Pay attention to your dogs unusual, unexplainable changes in behavior!

    August 18, 2011 at 09:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Josh

    So, when a dog sniffs a butt, they are actually doing a check for colon cancer?

    August 18, 2011 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. keith

    yeah and they smell each others butts too

    August 18, 2011 at 09:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jim

      They probably smell each other's butt because they have a sensitive nose.

      August 18, 2011 at 09:48 | Report abuse |
  20. upinfront

    The practical application is inappropriate/unethical & dogs are dogs, they will make tons of mistakes.

    August 18, 2011 at 09:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jamie

      Unethical how?

      August 18, 2011 at 10:39 | Report abuse |
  21. Patrick

    All this time we've been doing CAT scans – we should have been doing DOG scans!

    August 18, 2011 at 09:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Marion

      OMG.....that is funny!!! my cat is sitting on my lap reading this with me and making laughing sounds.

      August 18, 2011 at 10:05 | Report abuse |
    • Liz

      actually, the newer technology is called "PET" scans...LOL

      August 18, 2011 at 11:26 | Report abuse |
    • Having a good laugh

      So there are dogs inside those machines...

      August 18, 2011 at 11:54 | Report abuse |
  22. Reader

    Now everyone's going to get a dog.

    August 18, 2011 at 09:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. SNwmn

    Our dog was fascinated by one spot on my mother-in-law's leg. Since she always wears long pants and no one ever sees her bare legs, I teased her that she must have rubbed something that smelled good enough to eat on her calf. The dog would follow her everywhere and sniff the same spot...no matter what pants she wore. After three days, she speculated that the dog might be smelling the sore on her leg. That caught my attention and I found a large ulcer on the back of her leg. She told us it had been there for 6 months, was getting larger, wouldn't heal, and she had not called her physician about it. It was malignant and she had a sarcoma removed two days later! I am convinced that our dog may have saved her life.

    August 18, 2011 at 09:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. maxsmom

    my husband has type 2 diabetes. He ended up having a toe amputated because of a severe bone infection. For weeks before our friend's beagle would obsessively sniff that toe. Now when our dog sniffs anything we have it checked out. Recently another sniff fest on his other foot. Sure enough, diabetic ulcer forming! Pay attention to your dog. Their sense of smell is so powerful they can detect things before any outward sign!

    August 18, 2011 at 09:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. TTommy

    Dogs have many hidden talents we are just beginning to explore. I have a Golden Retriever who licks his b utt every time he sees our president on tv giving another speech. His nether regions are impeccably groomed.

    August 18, 2011 at 09:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. chris

    That's why my dog has been so loving lately. Aww she new

    August 18, 2011 at 10:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Amy

    That explains why I don't believe polls. Asking a few people, a few hundred people or maybe a couple thousand does not speak for everyone. I've never been contacted by telephone, a knock on the door, or approached in a public area and asked a question about these makeshift political polls nor do I know anyone who's been to participate in these polital polls, surveys whatever. Census Bureau numbers are accurate but this other stuff, cancer sniffing dogs, political polls, scientific research is sometimes false information.

    August 18, 2011 at 10:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mary M

      Not the same as a regular poll of humans here. The dogs aren't asked their opinions, they are asked to indicate where they detect a specific scent. they are not aware necessarily of what it is or why we want to know. In a sense they are the perfect poll participant because they aren't capable of skewing their response to what they think we want.

      August 18, 2011 at 10:43 | Report abuse |
  28. J

    How much are they charging for the "Lab" tests?

    August 18, 2011 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Randy

    Look all this garbage we read on here about cancer they have a cure they the drug companies dont want to put it out there becuase if they did they would go broke they always say we are close to finding a cure they being say that for th last 30 plus years come on people get real.

    August 18, 2011 at 10:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Mary M

    Fascinating! Maybe Fido won't be in the doctor's office, but I can see useful application of this ability in remote or rural areas where there is little access to diagnostic equipment. Attention MSF & Unicef!!

    August 18, 2011 at 10:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. rtbrno65

    It's not the cancer they're smelling, it's the tar buildup in the lungs from the cigarettes the patients smoked.

    August 18, 2011 at 10:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chartreuxe

      Not everyone with lung cancer has smoked cigarettes.

      August 18, 2011 at 12:41 | Report abuse |
    • rtbrno65

      Yes Chartreaux, that is why the dogs only smelled it in 71 % of the samples. That stat reflects the current average percentage of smoking related cancer cases.

      August 18, 2011 at 16:15 | Report abuse |
    • rtbrno65

      Respiratory cancer I should say.

      August 18, 2011 at 16:17 | Report abuse |
  32. Brent

    Curious, I wonder if the breath of cancer patients was captured by on particular nurse or machine, or in a particular case of manufactured vials, while the breath of non cancer patients was collected in another, . . is it possible that the dogs are identifying the vial itself and not the breath?

    August 18, 2011 at 11:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. mdmooser

    My dog licked averybody and now he is dead. ? ? ? ? ?

    August 18, 2011 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Believer

    My Chihuahua, Gizzy, was obsessed with sitting on my fathers lap and licking his left arm and shoulder every time she saw him this spring. He had been complaining of pain in both places. At home she will lick our wounds and is constantly trying to heal all of us. My dad wasn't feeling good the first of May and we thought he had pnemonia, so I took him up to the VA Hospital 150 miles away. Giz sat on his lap the entire way to the hospital and fussed over him. They ran a bunch of tests and came back to tell us he had stage IV lung cancer.

    Unfortunately it was past any hope of treatment. Gizzy stayed with him constantly. He was at my house the final few days and she was right there with him. The final day she wouldn't even leave to go to the bathroom or get something to eat. She stayed and licked his hand. He passed July 1, 2011.

    Looking back on it now, it kills me. I wish we could have known what she was trying to tell us early on and maybe had some hope for treatment. Believe me, I will listen to her if it ever happens again.

    August 18, 2011 at 11:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KandyKane

      Aww, I'm so sorry about your dad. 😦

      August 18, 2011 at 11:42 | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      I'm sorry, I'm so sorry that you lose your father to lunch cancer. I know you miss him terribly. It's good you and Gizzy were there for him when he needed you both. It gets better eventually, but it takes a great deal of time.

      August 18, 2011 at 12:44 | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      I'm sorry, I'm so sorry that you lose your father to lung cancer. I know you miss him terribly. It's good you and Gizzy were there for him when he needed you both. It gets better eventually, but it takes a great deal of time.

      August 18, 2011 at 12:45 | Report abuse |
    • ldean50

      wow. How horribly sad for you to lose your Dad. Don't be so hard on yourself – hindsight is irrelevant in this case. Think how thankful your Dad must have felt to have you with him – to take care of him and drive him to the doctor's. Then, on top of that he had a sweet little dog that loved him too. Thanks for sharing your story. It makes me feel hopeful.

      August 18, 2011 at 14:28 | Report abuse |
  35. anti-teabagger

    Boy the stupid count is high today, better close my windows.

    August 18, 2011 at 11:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • palintwit

      Teabaggers everywhere are still mourning the loss of Peggy Rea, the actress who played Boss Hogg's wife.

      August 18, 2011 at 11:27 | Report abuse |
  36. DasShrubber

    Do I beleive this... YES. Friends of our have two Brittanys, both were always friendly towards me. About 4 months prior to being diagnosed with cancer, one of the dogs woudl not come near me. Five years later, and with cancer in remission, we are good friends again.

    August 18, 2011 at 11:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Liz

    My grandson is type 1 diabetic. There is an organization that trains dogs to detect when a child's blood sugar is too high or low. He now has an external insulin pump, which monitors him 24/7 and acts like a pancreas. However, we did a lot of research on the ability of dogs to help kids with diabetes. it's pretty remarkable.

    August 18, 2011 at 11:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. KandyKane

    Our dog, who is seemingly attached to my hip most of the time, suddenly would not leave my husband alone for a second. Even when he went to the bathroom, she was right outside the door. Shortly after that, he was diagnosed with cancer. After he started his radiation treatment, she would leave him alone more and more each day until she was back into her "routine" of being attached to me (I don't have cancer, thank goodness!). We never really thought about her behavior until we said something to the oncologist, and she said that dogs and cats have been known to have a sense about stuff like that. Last summer, the dog started obsessing over my husband again and this time it kinda unnerved us. He was scheduled to go in for his annual scans and it showed the cancer had returned in a different location. Luckily, surgery removed all of it and so far, so good! But, I'm definitely keeping my eye on the dog and if she starts getting infatuated with my husband again, his butt is going straight to the doctor!!

    August 18, 2011 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. blah9999

    probably because the 71 with lung cancer are smokers. and they can smell the grossness in their lungs.

    August 18, 2011 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Thenextstep

    So does that mean they mistakenly let some leakers through and said they were not cancerous when they vial really was ?? As well, the opposite of that.............. A confusion matrix is definately need here . Given Apriori A, the outcome B.

    August 18, 2011 at 11:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. DonnyB4

    Story only gives half of the relevant statistics. Dogs identified 71 out of 100 cases. So these are the "true positives". That also means that they failed 29 out of 100 cases to detect cancer ("false negatives"). What about their performance on non-cancerous breath samples? How many "false positives", where the dog indicated cancer in a healthy sample?

    August 18, 2011 at 11:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. tadams

    I have a blue heeler that had this gift to smell cancer until he himself got bone cancer in his jaw and now his senses are all messed up. But he is like other dogs and loves to have jobs to do.

    August 18, 2011 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. TheBossSaid

    Nothing here new folks. Just dogs used to knowing what its cigarette smoking owner smells like.

    August 18, 2011 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Wanda

    I can smell fevers. Never realized that was unique until a few years ago. I'd gone to the doctor because I had a sinus infection that just would not quit, but my fever broke about an hour before my appointment. I told them I wasn't running a fever because the smell was gone, but the nurse felt my head and thought for sure I was. She took my temperature and sure enough, no fever. A few months later I had to go back for another sinus infection, and I had just started running a fever – my body hadn't really warmed up yet though so the nurse again thought I was crazy until she took my temperature and once again, I was right. It's not just sinus infection fevers, though (although those smell a bit different). And I can smell fevers on others if they get super close to me. I don't think it's in the breath, it smells more like it seeps out through the pores, but what do I know? Sadly, I cannot smell cancer. Could have prolonged a few lives if I could.

    August 18, 2011 at 12:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. mucklucky

    I have a jack-rat (jack russell / rat terrier) dog that I believe can smell cancer. She used to smell the chest (not his breath) of an uncle after he was diagnosed with lung cancer... a concetrated sniffing in one area. After he had part of his lung removed and had been thru chemo, she quit sniffing his chest. Cat-scans confirmed he was cancer-free.

    August 18, 2011 at 12:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Burbank

      I'm glad for your uncle. Sounds like we might be having dog scans instead of CAT scans soon.

      August 18, 2011 at 12:27 | Report abuse |
  46. PA Citizen

    Have we all missed the obvious? Unless they did this with 100 smokers, the dogs were picking out the smokers that have lung cancer – not because of the cancer but because their breath stinks, cancer or no cancer.

    August 18, 2011 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Burbank

      Why are you assuming they are all smokers? Plenty of people that don't smoke also get lung cancer. I think you are just looking for someone to put-down. No matter how many people you try to put-down, it will never make up for your own sense of indadequacy that is making you do that. Get therapy.

      August 18, 2011 at 12:30 | Report abuse |
    • Kt

      All Hail Burbank! Burbank For The Win!
      Thank you Hun! Hell even as a non-smoker these sort of ignorant comments assuming all the cancer was smoking related was starting to get on my nerves.
      So SO tired of self-righteous buttmonkeys assuming they know it all and that it's always smoking related and only smoking causes lung cancer.

      August 18, 2011 at 18:40 | Report abuse |
  47. moehoward

    I have frequent gout episodes, My dog, a male dalmation, usually starts sniffing, biting
    and licking my to be affected large toe a day or day and half before the pain and swelling start,

    August 18, 2011 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. anon

    Yeah, I can smell cigarette smoke, too. I don't need a dog to tell me that cigarette smoke causes lung cancer.

    August 18, 2011 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Joe from Kalispell

    Dog = Mankind's Best Friend

    August 18, 2011 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. mecatfish

    My dog has been sniffing in the direction of Washington DC since 2008.
    Kind of curious, I think.

    August 18, 2011 at 12:31 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3

Leave a Reply to tadams


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.