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Can Dogs Sniff Out Cancer in Humans?

Photograph by Twenty20

A dog's sense of smell is about 1 million times greater than a human's, which is why they have been used as everything from tracking dogs and hunting companions to bomb and drug sniffing dogs. But it turns out that sniffing out cancer may be the next big thing that we use our canines for.

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As reported by Animal Planet, researchers at the Pine Street Foundation in California trained dogs to sniff out both breast and lung cancer by smelling breath samples from patients. They had an amazing 88 percent success rate with breast cancer and a 97 percent accuracy rate with lung cancer. In another study, dogs in Japan detected colorectal cancer with 98 percent accuracy by sniffing breath samples.

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The reason scientists think the dogs are able to sniff out cancer are due to their ability to pick up on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the patient's breath. While dogs are still only being used to smell cancer in studies, scientists are hoping to identify and isolate the exact compounds dogs are detecting to create electronic cancer-sniffing devices.

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