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Can Animals Detect Cancer in Humans

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Recently, in the news you may have heard of Oscar the Cat, who stays at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Rhode Island. Oscar can predict a person's death is near or imminent and pays a visit to that person's bedside when the time gets nearer to death. How does he know this you ask?

The grim reaper cat is only 2 years old, and already is astounding medical researchers with his talented insight. As in some nursing homes that allow dogs and cats to visit the residents, they offer cheer and smiles to those who are old and sick and its is believed this enhances their outlook on life. Oscar's visit however, means more than we would want to know.

The Cancer diagnosis ability of dogs first appeared to be studied in 1989, and in early 2000 to 2001. It was then explored that dogs could detect bladder cancers, and melanomas as well, as lung and breast cancers.

Studies by The Pine Street Foundation, in San Anselmo, California by a group of Doctors Michael McCulloch, Tadeusz Jerzierski, Michael Broffman, and others have completed a Integrative Cancer Therapy study involving 83 patients, 55 lung cancer, and 32 breast cancer patients.

The study report was dated 2006, involved 5 dogs Labrador Retrievers and 2 Portuguese Water dogs and they utilized a reward based training method, where the dog's sniffed and identified the cancerous samples by sitting in front of the same sample. The results?

Quoted from the Sage Publications, on the study, available at: Sagejournal.com

" Among lung cancer patients and controls, overall sensitivity of canine scent detection compared to biopsy-confirmed conventional diagnosis was 0.99 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.99, 1.00) and overall specificity 0.99 (95% CI, 0.96, 1.00). Among breast cancer patients and controls, sensitivity was 0.88 (95% CI, 0.75, 1.00) and specificity 0.98 (95% CI, 0.90, 0.99). Sensitivity and specificity were remarkably similar across all 4 stages of both diseases. Conclusion: Training was efficient and cancer identification was accurate; in a matter of weeks, ordinary household dogs with only basic behavioural "puppy training"
were trained to accurately distinguish breath samples of lung
and breast cancer patients from those of controls".

Dogs: had a 95 percent accuracy compared to biopsy confirmed diagnosis.
They also in breast cancer patients and controls, their sensitivity was 95 percent, and for all 4 stages of both lung and breast cancer. This indicates that even if a cancer is in stage 1, their accuracy was the same as if it was at stage 4 cancer.

These were ordinary household dogs that conceivably can detect the same set of chemicals that cancer patients exhale and in some cases, even before a diagnosis is made and this has been confirmed by regular medical tests.

A British journal reported that in their study in Britain, where the dog in one case, indicated a positive response to one particular sample, from a non-cancer patient or so they thought at the time. The researcher in the case was surprised that the dog identified a non-cancerous sample. That subject was tested again, and medical results came back that the person unknowingly had kidney and bladder cancer.

Dogs are continually being studied for their uncanny ability to sniff cancer in a human's breath, either lung or breast cancer and their accuracy rates are just as accurate and a lot less painful and invasive than having a mammogram.

Do dogs possess more of an amazing ability in scenting, or have we known this for years, as they are used to track people lost in the woods, or on the hunt for escaped prisoners. These days they sniff drugs, and bombs at airports providing a vital service to protect us from attacks.

In England, dog owners train their pets to track the most expensive delicacy on earth -truffles. The areas in England are in the heartlands of Wiltshire and Hampshire. There is even a training school for dogs to be taught how to find truffles in the woods. Truffles are buried underground which are a little harder to find but worth the effort at up to $ 2,200.00 a pound for the more expensive white ones.. The breeds being used are; Spaniels, Labradors, Poodles, and a special breed of Italian truffle hounds called the Lagotto Romagnolo.

Dogs have the capacity to filter parts per trillion, in their noses, and can determine different chemicals in the atmosphere or in a breath sample. The whole world out there to a dog is filtered, and translated by their nose, they can determine much information via this venue even about their human caretakers.
Have you ever wondered why a dog sniffs at you when you first come home after being away all day? They are detecting where you have been, your mood, and can scent whom you have been with, especially if you patted another dog.

This makes Oscar's ability not only astounding but that this cat can smell approaching death also brings us to the conclusion that cats have the amazing and unexplainable aptitude to detect disease in humans. Cats also have a keen sense of smell, which has yet to be thoroughly documented and perhaps researchers may study cats abilities as well as dogs to determine diseases. Ongoing research and studies are being conducted in California, and England on different types of cancers, and predictably dogs will prove to be amazing diagnostic tools in the fight against cancer and early detection in the future.

Conceivably a dog can detect the same set of chemicals that cancer patients exhale while they are being diagnosed or even before a diagnosis is made and confirmed by regular medical tests. A British journal reported that in their study in Britain, a researcher was surprised, where one dog positively identified one sample as cancerous from a non-cancer patient.
That person then underwent medical tests and the results revealed the person unknowingly had kidney and bladder cancer.

Oscar the cat, has an accuracy rate so far of 25 out of 25 predictions. Brings to mind that joke about a Cat Scan. He is so accurate that once he visit's a room, the nurses call the immediate family! I wonder if Oscar gets a healthy treat now and then for his humanitarian efforts.

More details on the study can be found at Sage Publications: http://ict.sagepub.com

More about this author: Ines Peros

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