Healthy Living

Will Cancer-Sniffing Dogs Be The Screeners Of The Future?

Research has found canine cancer detection results are pretty accurate.
12/17/2015 05:59pm ET

Dogs can already sniff for bombs and drugs, but recent research is suggesting they also may be reliable in detecting cancer.

Dina Zaphiris is founder of the InSitu Foundation, which trains dogs to detect cancer. She explained to HuffPost Live's Nancy Redd that man's best friends may be able to help with a diagnosis because of their heightened sense of smell and their willingness to work. Zaphiris says dogs may be able to reliably detect some types of cancer in non-invasive samples like urine or saliva.

"Their noses are so incredibly sensitive," Zaphiris said. "They can smell things up to 100 million times smaller than we can. There's no way to explain how they smell. They smell literally what you see."

Finding ways to detect cancer early hits home for Zaphiris, whose mother died of breast cancer in 2010. She explained that her mom's mammogram, taken a year prior to her stage-3 diagnosis, didn't show the cancer. The recently published studies testing the dogs' abilities to detect it have been encouraging, she said.

"These dogs are in the upper 90 percent at their accuracy levels in sensitivity and specificity," Zaphiris said, adding that this is "huge for early cancer detection."

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