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Can dogs smell cancer?

  • McCulloch, Michael.
  • Videos

About this work


This documentary investigates the possibility that dogs might be able to smell cancer. When Gill Lacey was 19-years-old her dalmation Trudy became obsessed with a mole she had on her leg. After visiting her GP it was removed and it turned out to be a malignant melanoma. Despite opposition a small cluster of researchers are convinced that a dog's sensitive nose might really be capable of detecting cancerous odours from urine samples from men with prostate cancer and skin cancer lesions. World champion dog-trainer Duane Pickell has trained dogs to find bombs and by 1993 his dog George was proficient at finding the scent of cancer in urine samples; soon after other dogs were proven to have the same success in more controlled tests. However, can people trust their diagnosis to a dog? Cancer Research UK remain sceptical and believe that even if it was proven that cancers do have an odour, it would need to be measured by a machine rather than an animal. Finally, a study is taking place in the US, under Michael McCulloch at Pine Street, in which a dog is able to detect a lung cancer patient from their breath sample, even a 5 year old breath sample.


UK : BBC4, 2008.

Physical description

1 DVD (60 min.) : sound, color, PAL


Broadcast on 19 June, 2008

Copyright note




  • English

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