Dogs Being Trained to Detect Ovarian Cancer. Could This Be An End To The Silent Killer?

When I transferred to CSUS from a junior college, I was inspired to take a Women in Mass Media class taught by Dr. Leah Vande Berg. I had just wrapped up a couple internships and wasn’t sure if journalism was for me anymore. Dr. Vande Berg who was just returning after treatment for stage four ovarian cancer had a reputation for being a stickler when it came to grades, and I had a reputation for loving to work, but not enjoying attending class as often as I should have. I’ve always been a hands on type of person, I love working, and for the first time in my entire college career, I couldn’t get enough of the class. I remember finally having the courage to speak in class, and actually caring enough to attend office hours and speak with Leah about journalism. I’d told her how I’d felt about one of my internships and whether journalism was a profession I should get into. She told me that it’s a noble profession, and from that point on any time that I’ve second guessed my decision, I think about that morning on the fourth floor in Mendocino Hall in Sacramento and I’m comforted. Dr. Vande Berg is not just my favorite professor, but all these years later I still consider her a mentor. Unfortunately a few months after meeting with her to chat about my future, she passed away from ovarian cancer, which is also known as the silent killer. It’s known as the silent killer, as it often attacks without warning, and once symptoms are felt, it’s usually in its latest stage. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a way of detecting ovarian cancer when it first strikes? If ovarian cancer is caught at at an early stage it has a 90% survival rate.

Last night on “The Nightly News with Brian Williams”, Dr. Nancy Snyderman reported on dogs being trained at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine by Dr. Cynthia Otto (at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center) to detect ovarian cancer. There are four dogs in the program: Ffoster, Ohlin, Tsunami and a springer spaniel named McBaine who is being fostered while he’s training in this miraculous program in the hopes of “developing a screening test that could identify ovarian cancer in its early stages” that will hopefully save the lives of many. Did you know that a “dog’s sense of smell is 100,000 times more sensitive than a human?” According to Dr. Nancy Snyderman, these dogs are trained “to learn the scents of chemicals emitted by ovarian cancer in tissue and blood, they’re rewarded when they stop in front of a positive sample.” Dr. Snyderman also stated during the segment that “Cancer doctors at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania will collaborate with chemists and physicists ultimate goal is to build an “electronic nose that will duplicate what the dogs are naturally able to do.” Amazing.

Please watch the video below to learn more about these amazing physicians and dogs at the University of Pennsylvania!

 

Nightly News University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School Cancer detection dog McBaine,  is being trained to detect ovarian cancer. (HANDOUT/BLOOMBERG) Image courtesy of Columbian

University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School Cancer detection dog McBaine, is being trained to detect ovarian cancer. (HANDOUT/BLOOMBERG) Image courtesy of Columbian

 

Nightly News   |  July 07, 2014

Using Dogs to Detect the Scent of Ovarian Cancer
Researchers are hoping a dog’s extraordinary sense of smell can play a role in creating a new test that detects ovarian cancer in tissue samples:

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RIP Dr. Leah Vande Berg:

Dr. Leah Vande Berg lost her battle with ovarian cancer on December 13, 2004. Image courtesy of IUPUI.edu.

Dr. Leah Vande Berg lost her battle with ovarian cancer on December 13, 2004. Image courtesy of IUPUI.edu.

 

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