Sniffing Out Cancer


| July/August 2002 Issue


The Pine Street Chinese Benevolent Association in San Anselmo, California, is training a poodle named Shing Ling to detect cancer in its patients. The dog, reports Heather Bloch in Bark magazine (Spring 2002), is currently focusing on detecting early signs of lung cancer. She sniffs vials storing patients’ breath samples, which researchers believe contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that signal the presence of cancer cells. Shing Ling’s sensitive nose can apparently detect the presence of cancer earlier than health workers looking for tumors with X-rays. When she smells the VOCs she’s been taught to place her paw on the patient’s foot and sit down.