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Dog Detects Breast Cancer

Little Bella (front) was able to alert her owner to her undiagnosed cancer.

Dogs may be man's best friend, but for one woman, her dog is woman's best friend. Last summer, whenever Susan Castriota of Upper St. Clair, PA, would wake up in the mornings, her little Havanese Bella would sniff and poke her nose on one spot on her breast. Susan would only shoo Bella away because she knew that the little dog was known to be the sniffer in the family of two other Havanese.

During her yearly exam in October, it was discovered that she had a rare form of breast cancer. Susan also discovered that the disease was exactly where Bella was pressing her nose. "After receiving the news of my illness, I realized that Bella, one of my beloved Havanese dogs, had been paying an inordinate amount of attention to, and sniffing, my breast when I would get up in the morning," Susan said. "I believe that Bella detected my illness and was attempting to send a message." Susan underwent a mastectomy in December and is recovering well.

A dog's sense of smell is up to 100,000 times better than humans and through research, Susan discovered that some dogs do have the ability to detect cancer and that some are even trained to perform the task. "The extent to which dogs can help us to learn of, and deal with illness, is a fascinating new horizon which can benefit all of humanity—another way in which these beloved creatures are miracles possessing a sixth sense," she said.