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Neuroscience For Kids

Super Smeller Dog Sniffs Out Cancer
no July 21, 2008

In 2004, researchers showed that dogs could be trained to identify bladder cancer by smelling urine samples. Just published research extends these findings: a dog has been trained to sniff out ovarian cancer, even early-stage cancer.

no Dr. Gyorgy Horvath and his coworkers in Sweden and Hungary trained a 4-year-old black Riesenschnauzer dog to scratch and sniff at ovarian cancer tissue samples and ignore control tissue samples. Control tissue samples were other body tissues, such as muscle or fat, from cancer patients. The dog correctly identified ALL ovarian cancer samples (20 trials), but rarely responded to control tissue samples or to cancerous non-ovarian tissue. Even ovarian tumors in early stages caused the dog to respond.

no This study illustrates that dogs can be trained to detect a specific odor in cancerous tissue. Although it is too soon have dogs working alongside doctors in the examining room, this experiment may lead to new treatments and cures for cancer.

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