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Man’s Best Friend and Cancer Diagnosis

Home Care Bonita FL

Home Care Bonita FLThe success rate for the treatment of cancer increases dramatically with early detection, but several types of cancers are symptom free in the early stages, leaving early diagnosis difficult at best. Two of these types of cancers are ovarian and lung. Dogs, trained to sniff out volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, may hold part of the answer to early detection.

What are VOCs?

Volatile organic compounds are linked to cancers in their early stages. These are organic compounds, chemicals that contain carbon and are present in all living things that easily become vapors or gas. Human cancer appears to have odors specific to the type of cancer.

In one study, dogs were taught to smell scents associated with ovarian cancer in various stages of the disease. The results were impressive with 100 percent sensitivity and 97.5 percent specificity. Sensitivity relates to the ability to identify those with the disease while specificity is in relation to identifying those without the disease.

Studies

Dogs trained to sniff for VOCs were presented with 220 individuals that were either healthy, diagnosed with lung cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Lung cancer was identified with an overall sensitivity of 71 percent and a specificity of 93 percent.

The Future

While the medical community is hesitant to enlist the aid of sniffing dogs as a diagnostic tool, research is underway to develop “electronic noses”—sensors with the capability to detect the same odors that dogs have been trained to recognize.

Success Stories

Emilie Clark and Mia, her miniature dachshund, have a special bond. Emilie rescued Mia when she was but a puppy. She had been taken from a puppy farm and placed at a rescue center. Emilie suffered from several health issues including a heart problem that could cause her to pass out, and a hearing problem with high-pitched sounds. Mia was trained to let her know when the phone was ringing. She knew when Emilie’s heart started racing, requiring prompt medication, and found the medication in Emilie’s purse and brought it to her. And then she found her cancer. “I was at my computer when Mia leapt on to my lap and nuzzled into the flesh at the top of my breast. I pushed her gently away, but she fixed her eyes on mine and stared at me intently.” Emilie was diagnosed with grade 2a breast cancer at the age of 24 and underwent successful treatment.

Hope

Stories like these bring hope and promise to people fearful of the next diagnosis. Just as important, they carry the reminder that today is a remarkable gift and one truly worth making the best of. If it’s been awhile since you, as a family caregiver, managed to treat yourself to a special moment, maybe a massage, make time now. If you haven’t spent time with your parent just enjoying each other’s company, maybe having a picnic or going to a movie, make time now. And if your parent needs home care while you’re finding some time for yourself, consider the aid of a senior home care provider, professionals who are dedicated to caring for the elderly with the utmost compassion.

Resources:  Journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1534735408319058
www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/Jun/27
erj.ersjournals.com/content/39/3/669

If you or an aging loved one are considering Home Care Services in Bonita FL, call the caring staff at Dial-a-Nurse today. Naples: (239) 307-0033. Ft. Myers: (239) 307-0065.

Ted Wolfendale

Administrator at Dial-a-Nurse
Mr. Wolfendale is a graduate of Stetson University, and Stetson University School of Law, and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1988. He is admitted to practice in the Middle district of Florida, is an active member of the Florida Health Law section, and Lee County Bar Association.

In 1995 he became Administrator of Dial-a-Nurse nursing agency, the oldest nursing agency in the Southwest Florida succeeding his mother who started the company 37 years ago. He is also President of Nevco, Inc., an educational healthcare training company begun in 1988.

Mr. Wolfendale has worked with the U.S. Department of Commerce on various Missions to improve the quality of life around the world by development of supportive healthcare programs. In 2005 he traveled with U.S. officials and addressed the Italian National Government assisting in the creation of Nurse Education mandates for that Country. In 2006 he was invited and spoke with the National Institutes of Continuing Education in Eastern Europe on healthcare education and developmental mandates, and most recently represented the United States at the European Union in Lake Balaton, Hungary in 2011. In 2014 he traveled with the U.S. Department of State to Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam in an effort to improve caregiver knowledge and training.

Mr. Wolfendale has worked with a number of non-profits in contributing and creating curriculum to improve the quality of life in third-world countries since 2001, and notably created a successful program in Odessa, India that has been modeled in other areas of the world. In his backyard, he has worked with local Goodwill Industries to provide curriculum and training to underserved individuals who have obtained employment as a result of educational training. He was the Congressional appointment to the Governor's purple ribbon task force in 2013, and has worked to educate caregivers in all aspects of Alzheimer's training.