It’s well known that dogs have an incredibly acute sense of smell. They have 300 million sensory receptors in their noses, whereas humans have only about five million. The use of sniffer dogs is well known to anyone going through customs after returning from drug producing countries like Jamaica, Mexico or Afghanistan. And dogs are famous for their ability to detect explosives as well as to find specific humans – think bloodhounds. They’re able to do so because the substances they’re looking for have some volatile (smelly) component that is given off, often in minuscule amounts measured in parts per trillion!
Fortunately sniffer dogs can also be used to detect cancer. Some success has already been achieved with breast, lung and bladder cancers. Now trained dogs can detect prostate cancer, but not by sniffing the area where dogs are often known to sniff. Rather, dogs are able to detect prostate cancer by smelling urine samples and are said to be accurate in 90% of cases. Sniff on!