Dogs sniff out ovarian cancer


by KING 5 HealthLink

Posted on February 6, 2014 at 8:48 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 6 at 9:01 AM

Ohlin, Mcbaine and Tsunami have  different personalities but one special purpose.

“They're lifesavers. These dogs are saving lives," said Cindy Otto, DVM, PhD, Director, Penn Vet Working Dog Center

Otto is leading research at Penn Vet Working Dog Center, teaching dogs to sniff out ovarian cancer, which has no standard early detection test.

"It is a silent killer and so many women are not diagnosed until it's too late,” she said.

Each cancer has its own odor.  A dog's keen sense of smell could detect it.

"They are about 1,000 to 10,000 times better than we are at detecting any kind of odors,” said Otto.

The dogs are trained to sit when they find it. The ultimate goal is to use the dogs to help build a machine to detect the odor or biomarker, and create a blood test to catch ovarian cancer early.

 "They are training the machines so that the machines can then do millions of samples at a much lower cost, um, so that we don't have any woman who can't get this kind of screening, which is so important,” said Otto.

The five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is 44 percent. When found early it jumps to 92 percent.

Dogs are also being trained around the world to sniff out lung cancer and bladder cancer.