Dogs sniff out hard to detect cancer - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Dogs sniff out hard to detect cancer

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(02/04/14) - The next secret weapon for early cancer detection may just be our four-legged friends. Using the same super senses that help them detect drugs and missing people, dogs are able to find cancers earlier than ever.

Ohlin is a chocolate lab, described as happy go-lucky.

McBaine is a working boy, and he loves to search.

Tsunami, a German Shepherd is "methodical".  

Three dogs with three different personalities and one special purpose, says Veterinarian Cindy Otto,  "lifesavers. these dogs are, are saving lives."

Dr. Otto is leading research at Penn Vet Working Dog Center, teaching canines to sniff out ovarian cancer, a disease with no standard early detection test, "it is a silent killer and so many women are not diagnosed until it's too late."

Each cancer has its own odor, that Dr. Otto says a dog's keen sense of smell can distinguish, "they are about 1,000 to 10,000 times better than we are at detecting any kind of odors."

So far the dogs have been introduced to the smell of the cancer tissue.  The tissue is placed in one of four bowls. The dogs are trained to sit when they sniff through the bowls and find it.  

The ultimate goal is to use the dogs to help build a machine to detect the odor or bio-marker, and create a blood test to catch ovarian cancer early, "they are training the machines so that the machines can then do millions of samples at a much lower cost, so that we don't have any woman who can't get this kind of screening, which is so important."

The five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is 44 percent. When found early, it jumps to 92 percent. Olin, McBaine and Tsunami's program is funded by donations. The program at Penn Vet Working Dog Center is supported by donation.

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