Friday, July 04, 2008

Lab test for ovarian cancer

A friend/patient of mine was recently diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer. That, of course, is one of the most difficult aspects of ovarian cancer, namely that it is relatively symptom-free until it reaches an advanced stage.

In retrospect, she identified certain vague abdominal symptoms in the months prior to diagnosis (constipation, bloating, the development of a small 'middle-aged' pouch in the midriff), most notable and puzzling to her through the winter and spring was the increasing agitation of her devoted dog. The dear but scruffy mutt would scarcely leave her side, and no sooner did my friend lie down, but the dog would lay paw or muzzle on her abdomen. Most dramatically, the dog would eye her directly with long and beseeching looks.

An article in the June, 2008 edition of Integrative Cancer Therapies(1) may explain her canine's consternation. Swedish researchers in collaboration with members of the Working Dog Clubs of Sweden and Hungary theorized that dogs could be trained to recognize the characteristic odor of ovarian cancer. They not only found that the scent of an ovarian tumor in a doggy sense is different from that of other gynecological cancers (e.g. cervical or uterine) but that these cancer-screening pooches correctly sniffed out early-stage and borderline tumors as well as big, advanced ones.

The authors wrote: "Our study strongly suggests that the most common ovarian carcinomas are characterized by a single specific odor detectable by trained dogs, and while we do not believe that dogs should be used in clinical practice, because they may be influenced during their work [now what, really, could distract a dog?]... still, under controlled circumstances, they may be used in experiments to further explore this very interesting new property of malignancies."
(1)Horvath, Gyorgy, et al. Human Ovarian Carcinomas Detected by Specific Odors. Integrative Cancer Therapies Vol 7 Number 2 June, 2008.


rlbates said...

Haven't they found the same early detection by dogs with breast, melanoma, and other cancers? If we only knew how to use them better.

Dr. Smak said...

This I hadn't heard of. Fascinating.

Cilicious said...

I am so sorry about your friend.
I had heard of dogs sniffing out cancer as well as predicting seizures, but not in such detail.
I certainly think it is important.
Our old dog Tucker informed me of many a UTI for Rosie. He would repeatedly nose her, much more than the usual casual sniff. At the clinic, the vet would confirm Tucker's diagnosis.

JeanMac said...

Sorry to hear about your friend.Dogs are so smart but I guess I would have thought he was just being extra loving.

Mauigirl said...

Wow. Very interesting. I guess I should be relieved my dog ignores my abdomen!

So sorry to hear about your friend.