Researchers Use Dogs to Help Sniff Out Ovarian Cancer

August 9, 2013

Janos Tanyi, MD, PhD , an assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is quoted in several stories detailing a unique research collaborative between the Abramson Cancer Center, Penn Vet and the Monell Chemical Senses Center that is training dogs to use their keen sense of smell to help detect ovarian cancer, which is rarely diagnosed early, when it has the best chance of being treated successfully. Tanyi, who is leading Penn Medicine’s involvement in the study, says cancer cells emit volatile organic compounds that have a distinct "signature" in the earliest stages of the disease, when cells are dividing. "We believe that we can catch them when they are changing," he said. Patients, he said, are especially enthusiastic about being part of the study, and several dozen have donated tumor tissue and blood samples to be used in the study. "Between the surgery and the chemo, it's an exhausting and difficult time mentally and physically," Tanyi said of his patients. "They like it because it's fascinating and sounds like a bit of sunshine at a very cloudy time. They are really open for collaboration. ... They really want to help other patients." The Associated Press article and video about the research ran in newspapers including the Washington Post, USA Today and the Boston Globe, and CBS3 and also covered the study. One of Tanyi’s patients, a former veterinary nurse herself, is also quoted in the stories.

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Associated Press article
Associated Press video article
CBS3 segment