Dogs help sniff out cancer - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Dogs help sniff out cancer

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BERKSHIRE, England -

Claire Guest was letting her dogs out when Daisy started jumping and bumping her head at Claire's chest.

"Daisy drew my attention to a lump, slightly painful lump, almost like a bruised feeling, by nudging in to me," said Guest, the chief executive of Medical Detection Dogs.

Guest says she had the lump checked out and tests showed breast cancer.

"Without any question I would not be as well and even perhaps alive today had Daisy not drawn my attention to it," Guest said.

Guest runs a charity that trains dogs to sniff out cancer. The animals are taught to identify urine samples from bladder cancer patients. Trainer Robert Harris says cancer cells give off a specific smell that dogs can identify.

"Dogs have a fantastic sense of smell-- up to 100,000 times better than a human," Harris said.

Scientists are now trying to develop technology that sniffs out cancer just like dogs can.

"There's more and more work going on in electronic noses, trying to develop devices that can pick up those smelly molecules and maybe dogs can help inform the development of those devices," said Kit Arney of Cancer Research UK.

Scientists say a canine's sense of smell is so refined that dogs may one day be able to decipher between different types of cancer. Until then, Claire says she'll keep training her dogs to help prove man's best friend can save lives.

Researchers in the U.S. are already testing a machine called a mechanical dog that "sniffs" a patient's breath. Experts say if trials go well, that technology could be a common screening tool within 5 years.

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