Frequently Asked Questions
How can dogs smell a scent associated with cancer?
Dogs are amazing sniffers. They have 300 million scent receptors compared to humans’ 5 million and the part of dogs’ brains dedicated to smell is 40 times larger than humans. Experts estimate that this amounts to a 10,000 to 100,000 times greater sense of smell than humans. Humans have long relied on dogs for hunting, finding missing persons, bomb and drug detection and illnesses like diabetes and epilepsy. Leveraging similar training techniques, dogs can be trained to detect a scent associated with cancer with remarkable accuracy.
What cancer scents are covered in the screening?
Our dogs are trained on a “general cancer scent”. Our research has shown that many cancers share a common scent. While we are not sure of the comprehensive list, we have identified that our general cancer dogs can detect the scents associated with breast, lung, prostate, colorectal, thyroid, melanoma, lymphoma, renal and transitional cell carcinoma cancers.
How will I provide a sample? Will the dogs smell me?
No, the dogs won’t smell you. Participants are provided collection kits that include a surgical mask for sample collection, sample bag, instructions, consent form, questionnaire and prepaid return envelope. Participants wear the surgical mask and breathe normally for five minutes while completing the paperwork. Masks are then placed in the sample collection bag and returned to BioScentDX for processing.
Does eating garlic, drinking alcohol or other things when giving a sample affect the accuracy of the dogs?
No. Samples can be taken at any time of the day before or after eating.
Why did you choose to use breath samples over other options like blood and saliva samples?
Breath samples collected in a surgical mask are the least invasive method of collecting a sample and the dogs are the most accurate on breath samples.
How will the dogs screen my sample for cancer scents?
Surgical masks used to collect breath samples are put in a test tube and placed in canisters on the wall in our screening room. Trainers escort dogs through the screening room and the dogs are trained to smell each sample. Dogs will sit at a sample if they smell an odor associated with a cancer scent.
How accurate are the dogs?
In our testing, our dogs are performing at up to 97.9% accuracy in detecting a cancer scent in known positive samples when it is present. See our most resent research paper under the "Learn More" link on our homepage.
By purchasing a kit, you will be participating in a research study that will help us determine the dogs accuracy in screening samples that are unknown. We will follow up with participants at 12 and 18 months to cmopare the dogs findings with any traditional testing you may have had preformed.
Dogs that fall below our minimum performance criteria are removed from the testing program. All dogs periodically receive refresher training and testing quarterly to ensure they meet the minimum standards to continue to do the testing.
How many dogs will smell my sample?
We currently have four dogs trained on a general cancer odor that is common across many cancers. We plan to expand to more cancers in the future.
What happens when the some, but not all of the dogs detect a cancer scent?
If less than a majority of the dogs that review your sample indicate positive for the presence of the cancer order, your result will be considered inconclusive.
Does a positive result mean I have cancer?
No. A positive result means that a majority of the dogs that smelled your sample indicated that there was the presence of an odor consistent with cancer. This is not a positive finding for cancer. Any positive results should be shared with your physician and you should consult with them on any appropriate next steps.
What should I do if my result is positive for a cancer scent?
Any positive results should be shared with your physician and you should consult with them on any appropriate next steps.
What should I do if my result is inconclusive?
In this instance, we recommend that you share the result with your physician and use the initial screening results (e.g. one out of four dogs indicating positive on your sample) as a baseline and repeat your screening twice yearly. An increase in the number of dogs indicating positive in future screenings may indicate an occurrence of cancer.
Can I do this screening if I am in remission from cancer?
Yes, although the results may come back as inconclusive if you are in remission from cancer. In this instance, we recommend that you use the initial screening results (e.g. one out of four dogs indicating positive on your sample) as a baseline and repeat your screening twice yearly. An increase in the number of dogs indicating positive in future screenings may indicate a recurrence of cancer.
What should I do if my physician is not familiar with this method of screening for cancer?
If your physician is not familiar with this screening method, please direct them to bioscentdx.com for more information about the technology, research studies and our services. We recommend that you continue to stay vigilant with your preventative medicine exams and let your doctor know immediately if you have any suspicious changes in your health.
If my sample is general cancer scent positive, how can I determine what specfic cancer may be creating the scent?
Consult your physician. They may want to review your personal medical history, family history of cancer and environmental risks.
Does a negative result mean I am cancer free?
No. A negative result does not guarantee you are cancer free.
How often should I get screened?
People at low risk for cancer may consider getting screened on an annual basis. People falling into high risk categories due to age, personal or family history of cancer, known gene mutations like BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 or because of environmental exposure risks may consider getting screened twice yearly.
Should this screening replace traditional cancer screening like mammograms?
No. Canine scent detection for cancer scents is not a diagnostic tool and should not take the place of any physician recommended screening or testing. This screening is not intended to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat or prevent disease.
How can I help further this amazing capability?
By submitting a sample you are helping! The data gathered by processing samples will be used to further research studies and publish papers with the aim of gaining broad acceptance of this technology by the medical community.
How are my personal data and screening results protected?
We will not share any of your personal data with any third party. BioScentDX’s follows HIPAA standards for the protection of personal health information.
Can chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy affect my result?
Yes. Samples from patients currently undergoing chemo or radiation therapy may have a different scent and alter the result.