Dogs helping to develop technology for cancer detection

KGO logo
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Dog's sense of smell helping scientists develop technology to detect cancer at its earliest stages
Scientists are developing technology to detect cancer at its earliest stages with the help of dogs.

A dog's superior sense of smell is helping to detect cancer at its earliest stages. Researchers take blood plasma from cancer patients and place them into one of eight canisters for the pups to sniff out.

The goal is not for dogs to sniff cancer out in people, but rather to help scientists perfect an electronic nose that will. Executive Director of PennVet Working Dog Center, Dr. Cindy Otto says while it is possible for a pet to sense certain cancers in their owners, a machine is more reliable.

"My dream is that dogs confirm that the electronic nose is working and we get that out. If we can help recognize this cancer early, we will save lives. We just need to get the machines as good as the dogs," Otto said.

Researchers say an electronic nose will be able to essentially do the same thing as a trained dog's snout - sniff for stage one ovarian cancer, a disease that can now only be detected in later stages.

A dog's sense of smell has been estimated to be 10,000 to 100,000 times more sensitive than humans, according to ABC News.