Dogs can use their noses to sniff out bombs and drugs, lead manhunts for murderers, and rescue people from disasters. And, now, they can even diagnose diseases.
Researchers at University of Pennsylvania’s Working Dog Center are training a team of retrievers and Dutch or German Shepherds to use their extremely sensitive noses to sniff out ovarian cancer.
If they are successful, the research could lead to the development of a new device that could save thousands of lives every year in the U.S. alone. Also, they are completely adorable.
As with many cancers, detecting ovarian cancer early is crucial to survival. The five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is high (around 90%), but, as with many cancers, early detection is crucial. Though it is only the eighth most common type of cancer, it is the fifth most common cause of cancer-related death. That’s because about 70% of the time doctors don’t detect the cancer until it has spread.
Training dogs for scent detection works through a simple but lengthy process called imprinting. Trainers begin by taking an object familiar to the dog, say, a blanket, and covering the object with a bit of whatever substance they are trying to train the dog to detect — explosives,
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