Dogs are being trained to help doctors and researchers at UAMS diagnose thyroid and ovarian cancer.
"You get a certain lesion, a thyroid nodule you can't tell whether or not it's a cancer or not until you take them to surgery," says Don Bodenner UAMS Director of Thyroid Center.
Don Bodenner says the interpretation of a thyroid biopsy is problematic. That's where dogs like John D. comes in. He's one of five dogs training to sniff out thyroid cancer using urine an blood samples taken from patients.
"A dog can detect a drop of blood in an Olympic size swimming pool. It's that sensitive," says Bodenner.
These dogs' strong senses could change the way doctors diagnose patients.
"Over 95% of the time, they're correct," says Bodenner. "No one really knows what they smell, whether it's one particular thyroid cancer scent or whether it's a combination of a dozen or two."
UAMS doctors are still in the training phase, but recently got approved to start patient diagnosis. This will be the first time something like this has been done.
"Probably months rather than years we'll have at least enough data to show us whether or not this is going to succeed," says Bodenner.
And considering where John D. came from, it's crystal clear he's saving lives.
"It's amazing that a dog that someone threw away at a shelter and thought he didn't have enough value is now rescuing humans as a search and rescue dog, as a cancer detective and who knows where we'll go from this," says Donna Waugh, K9 Scent Trainer.
Not only can these dogs detect cancer, but they can also see if the cancer has any chance of coming back.