Being a dog lover (we have two Shelties,) any good news about my favorite pets always gets my attention. This story from Australia proves, once again, that dogs are truly “man’s best friend.”
A DOG has certainly become her owner’s best friend by detecting cancer and saving her life.
Paula Bockman-Chato had first believed that the constant sniffing and nuzzling under her arm by her beloved saluki Kaspar was just the dog being affectionate.
But that was until a medical check revealed early signs of lymph node cancer in the very spot that had attracted Kaspar’s attention.
While Mrs Bockman-Chato’s story is remarkable, it is not uncommon. Scientific research has now confirmed what was long anecdotally believed – dogs are highly successful in sniffing out cancer in humans thanks to their incredible sense of smell.
So good are they, up to 97 per cent accurate according to one study, that one of Australia’s chief vets is pushing to have dogs in GP surgeries just to sniff out cancer.
“He kept putting his nose in my armpit and sometimes he’d put his paw in there as well,” Mrs Bockman-Chato said. “I was totally unaware there was a problem until he kept focusing on that spot.”Having just beaten the cancer, she was cleared by her doctors after her diagnosis late last year, Mrs Bockman-Chato, of Kellyville, said she would not have been aware of the disease if it wasn’t for Kaspar.
Australian National Kennel Council vet Dr Peter Higgins said it was time doctors used this remarkable ability by having dogs in their surgeries as early cancer detectors.
“It would not replace diagnostic tests but it would be a good early and non-invasive way of finding if something is there,” he said.
Dr Higgins said some of his clients were alerted about emerging skin cancer when their pet dog started consistently licking the cancerous spot on their arm or leg.
“They went to their doctor and found they had a skin cancer developing,” he said.
Dogs are used in US doctors’ rooms to calm patients and reduce their blood pressure as they wait.
“I’d be saying to medical practitioners to have an open mind about it, give it a go,” Dr Higgins said.
Sydney veterinary surgeon Dr Rob Zammit said dogs had a sense of smell 10,000 times stronger than humans, giving them the ability to detect the different scent produced by cancerous waste products.
It is an ability which modern science is now utilising to save lives.
“It is the evolution of the dog as truly man’s best friend,” he said.
Cancer Council chief Professor Ian Olver said he was aware of the research and while it would be costly to keep dogs in surgeries it could be explored.
California’s Pine Street Foundation found dogs identified people with lung and breast cancer by sniffing proteins in their breath.
The foundation ran a trial involving 86 patients with cancer and 83 without and found dogs could identify the cancer patients with an 88-97 per cent accuracy range.
University of Oklahoma researcher Dr Patrick McCann, inspired by the dog cancer research, is developing a test using infrared lasers to detect cancer markers on a patient’s breath.