Dogs perform all kinds of jobs from guiding the blind to comforting those with PTSD. However, in the UK a new study is underway to see if certain dogs, mostly hunting breeds, can be trained to sniff out cancer. Using urine samples provided by the National Institute of Health in England, the dogs are being trained to notice and alert their handlers to those samples that come from patients who have prostate cancer.
Dogs are particularly well-suited to this kind of task because they not only have millions more smell detectors in their noses, they also have an organ in the back of their throats that can detect even the smallest amounts of certain smells. Anyone who has walked a dog knows that they will sniff every leaf and tree before deciding exactly where they want to leave their own scent. The charity Medical Detection Dogs and Milton Keynes Hospital NHS trust are collaborating on a 3 year trial to see how accurate the dogs can be in sniffing out the samples that indicate cancer.