CAT Scan or Dog Scan? Urge NIH to Fund Studies of Cancer-Detecting Dogs

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Annually 1.6 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer and 600,000 cancer patients die, often because doctors find cancer too late. Doctors need more accurate, less invasive cancer-screening and diagnostic methods.

A Dog’s Nose

A dog’s incredible sense of smell provides a simple and low-cost cancer-screening method. Trained dogs can sniff out cancer accurately and quickly, matching or beating results of screening tests that doctors use.

Petition Goal

Since using dogs to detect cancer earlier will save many of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who would otherwise die, we urge the US government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) and two of its divisions—National Cancer Institute and National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health—to fund doctors and scientists who train cancer-detecting dogs.

Please sign this petition to:

  1. Remind these administrators about current research using cancer-detecting dogs
  2. Ask these scientists to make cancer-detecting dogs a research priority
  3. Request the NIH to fund advanced American research on the “electronic nose”

Scent-Detecting Power of a Dog’s Nose

You are probably familiar with the bomb-sniffing dogs that protect our soldiers in Afghanistan by sniffing out roadside bombs. And you may have heard about the arson chemical-sniffing dogs used by law enforcement.

Did you know that dogs help find people buried in 10 to 20 feet of rubble, mud, or snow after earthquakes, building collapses, mudslides, and avalanches?

Or that a human might be able to smell a teaspoon of sugar in a cup of coffee, but a trained dog can smell a teaspoon of sugar diluted in the water of an Olympic-size swimming pool?

Research confirms that dogs are 50 to 100 times more sensitive to scent than humans (some research says over 1000 times). The power of a dog’s nose is one reason why dogs can be trained to sniff out deadly cancer.

The Dog’s Growing Role in Disease Detection

Scientists worldwide are excited by research that uses trained dogs to detect diseases—including cancer, infections, seizures, and dangerously low blood sugar, among others.

Over the past decade, dogs diagnosed deadly cancers by sniffing breath, urine, stool, or blood samples. In studies by American and international researchers, 70% to 98% of the time dogs identified which samples contained cancer and which did not. These cancers included breast, prostate, lung, colon, thyroid, bladder, colon, and skin. Often these dogs correctly predicted the presence or absence of cancer better than medical tests doctors use.

International Research Is Years Ahead of American Research

The European Union is developing an electronic-sensing device (commonly called an “electronic nose”). The EU’s goal is to make a reliable, inexpensive, and chemical-based device that works as well as a dog’s nose in detecting cancer. One of these devices has a 90% accuracy rate in identifying chemicals in breath samples that indicate cancerous lung lesions.

Although promising, this device is inferior to a trained dog in detecting most cancers and won’t be ready for another decade.

Meanwhile, clinics in Switzerland and Mexico plan to use cancer-detecting dogs, and they expect to improve cancer outcomes through earlier detection and treatment. Cancer-detecting dogs already work with a hospital in Great Britain.

Help American Doctors Save Lives

Millions of dogs in America can be trained to detect cancer and save lives today. Please sign and share this petition to urge America’s medical research branch—the NIH—to help doctors and scientists train large numbers of cancer-detecting dogs.