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Cancer-Sniffing Dogs Could Save BIG Money


There seemed to be as many dogs as humans in the room. Feet had to be careful to avoid the many paws and tails of all shapes and sizes. The door opened, all went quiet and Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall entered the room to meet the Medical Detection Dogs, who were on parade with their “socialisers”, owners and handlers.

Accompanied by Dr. Claire Guest – the CEO of MDD and trainer of the cancer detection dog on show today – The Duchess was shown an example of just how clever these dogs are who sniff out cancers. Daisy, an eight year old golden labrador, who is the senior dog of the team, went through her paces and correctly identified prostate and renal cancers.

The charity also provides “alert” dogs for people with conditions like diabetes or Addison’s disease. These dogs are trained to detect changes in their owners, which herald the need for medication – at which point, the dog goes and fetches the necessary kit and brings it to the patient, or the patient’s parents. At the event were several small children with their assistance dogs, who towered over them. These dogs are life-changers for all the people they help and one particularly astonishing example was sitting on her owner’s lap. A little terrier, called Ssafa, has been trained to alert her owner, Anthony Robinson, when the pain from his complex medical condition is about to become so serious that – without medication – a visit to hospital will be required. Ssafa detects the change and fetches the medical kit. Not only has Ssafa saved Tony a great deal of pain and distress but, in the process, she has saved the NHS a considerable amount of money.

At the moment there are five cancer detection dogs, with two about to start their training. It costs £5000 to train one of these dogs – but their keen noses must be the way forward. The ability to detect very early breast (from breath) and prostate (from a tiny urine sample) cancers would mean many mammograms and the unreliable PSA test could be history, along with unnecessary and invasive procedures.


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