Medical Detection Dogs

Bill Ferguson, Tenterden Rotary Club

Tenterden Rotary speakers 22 October 2015: The PSA test for prostate cancer is notoriously inaccurate giving 75% of wrong results. A trained dog can detect prostate cancer with 90% accuracy. There are currently 9 dogs trained to do this. It costs £5000 to train each dog. Millie Harries and Biddy Wood from the Medical Detection Dogs charity described the training process and told us of some exciting new research in training dogs to detect other kinds of cancer.

While some dogs can help with screening programs others help in different ways: we were introduced to Claire Pearson and Pal, her detection dog. Claire has type 1 diabetes and dangerously variable blood sugar levels. Pal has learned to alert Claire whenever she needs insulin or glucose and will even bring her the appropriate bag.

From an article in the British Medical Journal in 2004 to the first International Conference in Medical Biodetection there is growing interest in the field and how it may be further developed. Find out more at

Photo 1: Millie Harries and Biddy Wood
Photo 2: Pal 


Bill Ferguson, Tenterden Rotary Club Press Officer   
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