Cancer Detection Dogs

Approximately 1.7 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in the United States in the year 2017.  Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the US, and accounts for nearly 1 of 4 deaths (American Cancer Society).  While tremendous progress has been made in the field of cancer research over the last few decades, there is still a need for more accurate screening methods for many types of cancer.

Existing screening methods can be invasive, costly and have high rates of false positives, causing many men and women to undergo unnecessary biopsies and anxiety.  After one mammogram to screen for breast cancer, 12% of women aged 40-49 will have a false positive result, leading to unnecessary biopsies.  The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force  recommends against prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-based screenings for prostate cancer. The benefits of PSA-based screening for prostate cancer do not outweigh the negatives.

Dogs have proven in numerous studies around the world to be highly accurate in detecting early to late stage cancer in non-invasive human samples such as saliva and urine.  Recent studies had results upwards of 97% in sensitivity and specificity using dogs to detect prostate, lung, colorectal and ovarian cancers.  Earlier detection of cancer will allow for more effective treatment and an increase in survival rates.

In Situ Foundation, a pioneer in the field of cancer detection dog training in the United States, has participated in both federally funded and privately funded research studies. Their standardized cancer detection dog training protocol is awaiting clearance by the FDA. We believe that the clearance will be facilitated as more validation studies are conducted across the country.  Parts Per Trillion Foundation’s goal is to collaborate with a doctor or hospital to establish a replication study in Hawaii utilizing In Situ Foundation’s standardized cancer detection dog training protocol.



Action News video segment on In Situ Foundation and cancer detection dogs (US 2016)

Chico ER Health: Chico Canines Sniff Out Cancer ~ In Situ Foundation partnership with Enloe Medical Center (US 2017)

Pine Street Foundation’s Cancer Detection Dog FAQ (US)

BBC video segment: Medical Detection Dogs train animals to sniff out breast cancer (UK 2013)

The Guardian: Cancer-detecting dogs approved for NHS Trial (UK 2015)

Seeker: Dogs Can Sniff Out Breast Cancer from a Bandage (France 2017)

Japan Times: Dog excels at sniffing out cancer (Japan 2011)

Japan Times: Yamagata town to test using dogs to detect cancers (Japan 2017)



To review research studies on cancer detection dogs, click here.  These 21 studies and editorial letters were selected as best representing the science of cancer detection dogs by Dr. Hilary Brodie, PhD. M.D., Chairman of Otology and Neurotology at UC Davis.