SOURCE: Cleveland Clinic

August 5, 2016

Recently former Beverly Hills 90210 actress Shannon Doherty said before she was diagnosed with breast cancer, her dog detected it by sniffing her.

Studies have suggested that a dog’s nose can indeed pick up the subtle smell of cancer, according to Peter Mazzone, MD, MPH, of Cleveland Clinic.

Super smelling ability 

Several research studies suggest that dogs may be able to pick up the scent of chemical compounds present in melanoma, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, as well as lung and breast cancer.

In fact, Dr. Mazzone is leading research on a device that tries to mimic a dog’s super sense of smell.

“We’ve tried to replicate that by using various types of sensing devices that act much like a dog’s nose, they can detect these chemicals in very, very low concentrations,” said Dr. Mazzone. “We try to find out if these patterns of chemicals are more common in people with or without cancer.” 

Science of scent

Scientists are currently trying to mimic the incredible smelling power of a dog’s nose using a special breath test machine.

The machine requires a person to breathe into a tube for a few minutes. Then, the machine analyzes the breath and a sensor changes color depending on what chemical compounds are present.

Studies done on breath testing show it can detect lung cancer with a high degree of accuracy.

Other diseases such as liver disease, heart failure, asthma and certain bowel conditions have also been detected by a breath test.

Future of breath testing

“The research hasn’t given up on it,” said Dr. Mazzone. “It’s still moving forward and we’re still quite hopeful that one day we’ll be able to look for cancer in a means similar to what the dog can do.” 

Dr. Mazzone expects breath testing to become more accurate as time and research go on.

He hopes breath testing for certain diseases will become a reality in the next five to ten years.


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