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Evidence for canine olfactory detection of melanoma

By D. Pickel, G. P. Manucy, D. B. Walker, S. B. Hall, J. C. Walker

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Evidence of chemical markers for melanoma in blood and urine suggests that volatile chemicals might be released from melanoma cells (on the skin surface) in amounts sufficient to allow early diagnosis. When tested using methods normally used in canine olfactory detection of drugs and explosives, two dogs demonstrated reliable localization of melanoma tissue samples hidden on the skin of healthy volunteers. One dog (A) then "confirmed" clinically suspected (and subsequently biopsy-proven) diagnoses of melanoma in five patients. In a sixth patient, this dog "reported" melanoma at a skin location for which initial pathological examination was negative, despite clinical suspicion. More thorough histopathological examination in this individual then confirmed melanoma in a fraction of the cells. In a seventh patient, in whom neither dog nor dermatologist provided a definitive response, melanoma was detected by histopathological examination. Dog B searched four of these seven patients; in each case, responses agreed with those of dog A. These findings warrant further study of the conditions under which detection of melanoma might be enhanced by the biological or non-biological detection of volatile chemicals emanating from skin lesions.

Date 2004
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 89
Issue 1/2
Pages 107-116
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address VONPICKEL K-9 Inc., 1386 Chaires Cross Road, Tallahassee, FL 32317-9724, USA.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal diseases
  2. Blood
  3. Cancer
  4. Diagnosis
  5. Dogs
  6. Mammals
  7. Methodologies
  8. odors
  9. olfaction
  10. peer-reviewed
  11. Pets and companion animals
  12. skin diseases
  13. skin lesions
  1. peer-reviewed