Canine cancer detection closer to reality

To the Editor:

I have to start with a huge thank you to Team Gloria for their support in helping me get to school in the first place and another one to the people of Revelstoke for being interested in my story.

I spent a life altering week in sunny California, with a group of experienced trainers from around the United Sates, learning about; the canine olfactory system, the years of work spent building the research behind Canine Cancer Detection and the specific methods Dina Zaphiris created for training the lovable dogs we partner with. Each day was packed from dawn till dusk with valuable information, good company and dreams of the work to come back home.

I really want to voice not only the capabilities of the dogs but a hope for what the world might be like if we were able to push the science through to clinical trials and public screenings. The dogs have shown a higher accuracy than any of the current screening options available; they do not need invasive tests that can do more harm than good, they provide very few false positives and best of all they can detect cancer as early as stage 0! This is significant because the earlier a patient can seek treatment, the higher their chances of survival become. In the years to come dogs could potentially be used as an additional method for screening cancer in the general public. And with government approval and backing there could even be yearly screenings much like a general physical. That is my hope.

But that will take a lot of work, a lot of trainers and a lot of dogs. And here is how you can help with that. Ask questions! Talk about what you now know. In stories like mine it seems that funding is the most important factor and yes I will need funding to get a proper Not-For-Profit Foundation up and running. However I hope to contact larger organizations and societies, or the government itself, to seek the start-up and operational funds I will need. Right now I am asking you for awareness. Tell the world around you that there are trainers out there, right now, that are Certified and working with dogs to detect cancer in human samples. For too long all people have heard about are special dogs that have found cancer in their owners; they have never heard about the studies that have already been done by teams of dogs with amazing results.

That needs to change, because the single most important thing that I will need in order to train dogs to detect cancer will in fact be Samples. These samples come in the form of; urine, sputum, saliva, breath and plasma. I will need hundreds of samples; healthy samples, cancer samples and control samples (those with other symptoms that are not cancer) to do my very first study alone, not to mention those in the years following. What I need most from the public is this; as many people as possible standing by and waiting to give samples into a Bio Bank for the dogs to train on over the years.

Because these are my first weeks of preparation I do not currently have a Bio Bank ready, nor people trained to take the samples specifically for the dogs, to start collection. So awareness remains all that I am asking for. These dogs are capable of accurate, early detection; so why shouldn’t the whole country know about it?

 Ariel Verge
Clearwater, BC