Many of us have read about dogs who have sniffed cancer in their owners.  Stories about this happening go back decades, and in the last few years, this topic has gotten the attention of research teams and nonprofit organizations.

Dina Zaphiris, a dog trainer and CEO of the In Situ Foundation, a California nonprofit organization dedicated to training cancer-sniffing dogs, believes they can translate dogs’ diagnostic skills into clinically useful, standardized protocols that can be scaled up from study samples to the millions who are screened for cancer each year.  She says that over the last 13 years they have trained their dogs to be 90% accurate in detecting the cancer and not alerting to false positives.  She has used that experience to create a training curriculum that she has copyrighted.  The In Situ Foundatio has begun running cancer detection certification classes for dog trainers.

So why would scientists take a chance on an animal that can be unpredictable?  It’s because a dog’s sense of smell is like a superpower.  Dogs have approximately 300 million odor receptors compared with 6 million in humans.  They also have a second smelling apparatus and a large area of their brain devoted to analyzing smells.

The question is, what do we do with the knowledge that dogs can smell cancer?  There are a lot of groups working on this right now.  Most everyone agrees that dogs can smell cancer.  How do we apply this knowledge and make it widely available?

This information was taken from the spring 2017 edition of

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