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Canine Cancer Detection

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Who says dogs can’t do anything useful? Well, besides being our best friends, of course! Dogs have an incredible ability to detect certain health issues, including cancer. In this article, we’ll explore the science behind canine cancer detection and how it’s changing the game for cancer diagnosis.

The Science Behind Canine Cancer Detection

Dogs use their keen sense of smell to detect chemical signals that our bodies emit when we’re sick or have a disease like cancer. These signals are unique biomarkers that are present in tiny amounts, even before symptoms appear. By sniffing out these biomarkers, trained dogs can identify the presence of certain types of cancer.

Studies have shown that dogs are remarkably accurate at detecting various types of cancer, including breast, lung, colorectal, ovarian, and skin cancer (melanoma). In fact, research has demonstrated that dogs can detect cancer biomarkers with an accuracy rate of up to 95%!

How Dogs Detect Cancer

So, how do dogs do it? Well, they use their incredible sense of smell! Dogs have up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to only 6 million in humans. This allows them to detect even the faintest whiffs of cancerous biomarkers.

Dogs also use other techniques to identify cancer, such as sniffing and pawing. They might sniff a person’s armpits or breath to pick up on the unique scent of their body chemistry. Or, they might paw at a specific area of the body to indicate where the cancer is located.

Types of Cancer That Can Be Detected by Dogs

While dogs are most well-known for detecting certain types of cancer, such as breast and lung cancer, they can also detect other forms of cancer, including:

  • Colorectal cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Skin cancer (melanoma)

The possibilities are endless! And the best part is that dogs can detect cancer at an early stage, when it’s most treatable.

How Detection Works in Real-Life Scenarios

Let’s take a look at some real-life scenarios where dog detection has made a difference:

  • In one study, dogs were able to detect breast cancer with an accuracy rate of 91%. This is especially important for women who may not have symptoms or have delayed diagnosis.
  • Another study found that dogs could detect lung cancer biomarkers with an accuracy rate of 95%! This is crucial for early detection and treatment of this often-aggressive form of cancer.

Training and Certification of Cancer-Detecting Dogs

So, how do we get these amazing dogs trained to detect cancer? The process typically involves training the dog to sniff out specific biomarkers or chemicals associated with certain types of cancer. The dog is rewarded for correct responses and corrected for incorrect ones until they’re proficient in detecting the biomarker.


Dogs have an incredible ability to detect cancer, and this technology is changing the game for early detection and treatment. By working with these amazing animals, we can improve cancer diagnosis rates and give patients a better chance at beating the disease.

So, what’s next? Well, it’s up to you! Share this article with your friends and family, and let’s get the word out about the incredible abilities of dogs in detecting cancer.


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