The Nose Knows

Cool:

Man’s best friend may cement his position if early results from French researchers can be replicated. A team of researchers from Tenon Hospital in Paris reported Tuesday at a San Francisco meeting of the American Urological Assn. that dogs can be trained to detect the characteristic odor of unique chemicals released into urine by prostate tumors, setting the stage for a new way to identify men who are most at risk from the cancer. If developed, the test might be more effective than the PSA test now used because it would have fewer false positives.

As surprising as the idea might sound, other researchers have already been studying the use of dogs to detect cancers of the breast, lung and bladder. Many tumors release characteristic chemicals that can be identified by the exquisitely sensitive canine nose. Lung cancer cells, for example, can release such chemicals into the air of the lungs, and they can then be detected on the victim’s breath.

I wonder if it is cheaper.

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43 replies
  1. 1
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    I wonder if it is cheaper.

    It won’t be once the insurance companies get a hold of it.

  2. 2
    Don says:

    Only till the medical-industrial establishment gets their hands on it. Then, like the transition from marijuana to marinol, it’ll get unbelievably expensive.

  3. 3
    Martin says:

    Oh, sure, you don’t trust a cop to gauge your speed but you’ll let Lily sniff your pee and diagnose you for cancer?

    Speciest!

  4. 4
    maus says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage:

    It won’t be once the insurance companies get a hold of it.

    Insurance companies love cheaper stuff, even if it doesn’t work. They cover tons of homeopathy and “alternative” therapies that don’t do any good, simply because it’s cheaper than the real therapies and saves them money in the long run.

  5. 5
    licensed to kill time says:

    Let’s see, we’ve had their lying eyes, now the nose knows….what’s next, the mouth that roared?

    A dog’s nose is a wondrous thing.

  6. 6
    The Dangerman says:

    @Martin:

    At least he isn’t endorsing having a cop sniff his pee.

    Golden (retriever) shower!

  7. 7
    MikeJ says:

    As soon as you know what compounds the dogs are detecting you can build a machine and sell them to specialists who will then charge a lot because they have the only machine.

    Or you could develop a home testing kit with an expensive reagent that has to be refilled when you take your recommended once weekly test.

  8. 8
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    So in the future you’ll bring a chicken to the doctor and in exchange he’ll have a dog sniff your butt?

    This is getting weirder all the time.

    Oh the researchers were French? So it probably only works with poodles.

  9. 9
    MikeJ says:

    As soon as you know what compounds the dogs are detecting you can build a machine and sell them to speçialists who will then charge a lot because they have the only machine.

    Or you could develop a home testing kit with an expensive reagent that has to be refilled when you take your recommended once weekly test.

  10. 10
    stevie314159 says:

    Q: Why do dogs lick their balls?

    A: It’s a Phase III clinical trial.

  11. 11
    D-Chance. says:

    We can train police canines to determine levels of drunkenness. Hey, why not, if a human eye can be trained to accurately judge a car’s speed, why not have a dog on board to tell the officer that the suspect is also DUI?

    Damn you, #’s 3 and 5…

  12. 12
    licensed to kill time says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: Screen, liquid, spew, YOU!

  13. 13
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    @stevie314159:

    I always thought the answer was because they can.

  14. 14
    Violet says:

    That’s cool. When a very close family member became depressed, his breath changed. It became almost metallic smelling. His subsequent bouts with depressed produced this same phenomenon. We now consider it a sign that the depression is “real” and needs attention and is not just a short term period of feeling down.

    There is so much more about how the human body works that we don’t know. Yet.

  15. 15
    Comrade Mary says:

    So now we know why dogs insist on shoving their noses up your butt. They’re frustrated diagnosticians frantically trying to communicate with us in the best way they know, but failing, like those doomed wee Vonnegut aliens(1) who communicated through a combination of farting and tap-dancing.

    (1) Bill E. Pilgrim may be able to tell you more.

  16. 16
    D-Chance. says:

    Cole, get ready…

    we’re now going from “Obama doesn’t care about the oil spill” to “token” and “theatrics”.

    Despite the White House’s stated contempt for token appearances and what it calls “theatrics,” President Obama is reportedly heading back to the Gulf Coast Friday to show that the oil spill is at the top of his agenda.

    If he doesn’t go, it shows he’s out of touch or just doesn’t give a damn. If he does go, it’s simply theatrics and token appearances. And what about poor Indonesia and Australia being “snubbed” again?

    Geez-o-flip.

  17. 17
    Martin says:

    @MikeJ: You’re right on the money here. Our guys are already building microsensors that use the same sensory systems as insects to detect certain chemicals.

    However, if we can ever get this nanofabrication really off the ground, the cost per sensor will be next to nothing – all the cost will be up front in the design and setup. If you need a few thousand of them, they’re really expensive, if you need millions, dirt cheap. We’ve got a framework now for these – it’s a dermal patch with microneedles in there (can’t feel them) that can sample blood/deliver drugs in very small quantities. Just load your sensor, logic, and drug delivery (or notification for a pure sensor) into the framework and crank them out for a few bucks each in volume. Best thing is they’d work in the field with minimal training – less error prone than pregnancy tests. Just slap it on your arm, wait, get your result, and toss it away. It’s closer than you might realize.

  18. 18
    geg6 says:

    I read an article several years ago while sitting with my mom as she received chemo for the breast cancer that eventually killed her about how some study was being done about how dogs could “sniff” breast cancer.

    Dogs’ noses are one of nature’s most amazing creations.

  19. 19
    Origuy says:

    I wonder if it is cheaper.

    As long as the lab technician doesn’t fall while carrying the dog on the slippery lab floor.

  20. 20
    Citizen Alan says:

    @The Dangerman:

    At least he isn’t endorsing having a cop sniff his pee.

    Now that would be expensive. And also a misdemeanor in Alabama.

  21. 21
    asiangrrlMN says:

    So, perhaps the cats who go visit older folks in nursing homes who subsequently die (the people, not the cats) have the same thing working for them?

    @Bill E Pilgrim: Told you. Funnier than Woody Allen you are.

  22. 22
    Martin says:

    @Origuy: Win!

  23. 23
    verberne says:

    A dog sniffing my crotch in a Doctors office is a lot less painful and invasive as having a rod eased into my penis on its way to my bladder to have a biopsy of my prostate gland.

  24. 24
    jonas says:

    This is cool. You get your prostate cancer diagnosed at an early stage, which is highly survivable, and the dog gets to sniff pee — which is like the highlight of its day!

  25. 25
    Delia says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    I know some people whose twenty-year-old cat died recently (peacefully at home). During the week before his death, while he was declining, one of their three border collies followed him around constantly. So now they call him Hospice Dog.

  26. 26
    Jackie says:

    I know they were training dogs to sniff melanoma’s. I think it was in England. I saw a video of a schnauzer being trained to find a sample and then would do a body search on people to determine which mole needed a biopsy. I would love to experience what dogs smell for a day. Especially since except for skunk and ammonia they don’t seem to believe there are bad smells, only interestingly stinky ones.

  27. 27
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    Will it be cheaper if you get at CAT scan and a dog scan in the same visit?

  28. 28
    geg6 says:

    @Jackie:

    Stink bugs. Add that to the list of things dogs would agree with us about the smell. My John’s Otis, who never stops sniffing and snorfling, won’t even inhale around a stink bug.

  29. 29
    Sheila says:

    Is this surprising? Anyone who pays attention knows that animals, in general, know a great deal more about the natural world than people.

  30. 30
    Roger Moore says:

    @Quaker in a Basement:

    Will it be cheaper if you get at CAT scan and a dog scan in the same visit?

    Depending on the breed, they may wind up classifying it as a Lab test.

  31. 31

    […] According to a recent French study, dogs might be able to smell your prostate cancer. […]

  32. 32
    Tim O says:

    So my dog is just studying to be a doctor!?! Have at it Fido!

  33. 33
    Tim O says:

    I’ll give you a chicken if you have your dog sniff my boobs.

  34. 34
    twiffer says:

    now we know why dogs are always sniffing crotches. they are just checking for cancer!

  35. 35
    gnomedad says:

    All right, sir, now we’d like you to step into the next room and pee on the tree.

  36. 36
    gnomedad says:

    All right, sir, now we’d like you to step into the next room and pee on the tree.

  37. 37
    twiffer says:

    you know, bears have an even better sense of smell than dogs do. why not train grizzlies? would certainly add some excitment to the process.

  38. 38
    soonergrunt says:

    Great. Just great. I spend all this time and energy trying to get my dog to stop sniffing people between the legs and now you tell me this?

  39. 39
    Amy says:

    I’ll give you a chicken if you have your dog sniff my boobs.

  40. 40
    Jenn says:

    Bless you, thank you — I needed those laughs! (Not to mention, more evidence dogs are the best!)

  41. 41
    EJ says:

    It’s always been a mystery to me how an animal with such an exquisite sense of smell will happily eat garbage, dirt, and shit if you let it.

  42. 42
    Dr. Psycho says:

    @EJ: Maybe they can detect something we can’t, the way small children don’t see the appeal of whiskey, or olives.

  43. 43
    beckya57 says:

    Dogs can detect smells, but something I’ve realized since I became a Basset Hound slave is that they don’t pass judgment on smells, unlike us. All smells are intriguing and exciting to them.

    The dog narrator in the book “The Art of Racing in the Rain” could smell the owner’s wife’s brain tumor. Life imitates art…

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