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Wonder Dog Saves Owner's Life by Sniffing Out Breast Cancer

Update Date: Apr 17, 2013 08:27 AM EDT
pug, dog, pet
(Photo : jonclegg/Flickr)

A 57-year-old woman was saved from breast cancer thanks to her pet dog.

Marian Cooper, an animal rescue worker from Birmingham, UK, said that her 6-year-old pet pug had tirelessly nudged her right breast until she performed a self-exam and realized she had a lump, according to the Daily Express.

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In 2011, doctors discovered that Cooper had a cancerous growth in her breast and diagnosed her with a grade 3 malignant tumor.  While tumors are expected to grow rapidly at this stage, Flo the "wonder pug" discovered her owner's ailment just in time for the tumor to be successfully removed.  After receiving needed medical care, Cooper was officially declared cancer-free in December 2011.

"Flo kept nudging me and digging at me - no matter how many times I put her on the floor she would always climb back up," Marian told the Daily Express.

"I thought she was just being annoying, but without her I'd probably be dead," she said.

"The lump was so deep I wouldn't ever have found it without Flo the wonder pug," Cooper explained.

The latest case adds to increasing evidence that some dog breeds have the ability to smell cancer.  In the past researchers found that dogs can smell bladder cancer from urine samples and lung and ovarian cancers from a whiff of a person's breath.  Japanese scientists in 2011 found that a black Labrador was able to detect colorectal cancer at a better rate than common medical tests at 98 percent accuracy.

Cooper firmly believes that she would never have found the tumor without the help of her beloved pet pug.

"We were lucky to have found it so early. I would never have found it on my own," she said, according to the New York Daily News.

"I tried using the flat of my hand like the doctors say, but I couldn't find anything," she said. "I only found the lump when I really poked around.

"It small and hard - the size of a petit pois," she added. "When the doctors removed the tumor they told me it was grade three and if I hadn't found it things would have been much worse."

Since her owner's tumor was removed, Flo's behavior has returned to normal.

"When I got home, she got on my lap and sniffed. She seemed satisfied and hasn't done anything like that since," Cooper said, according to the Daily Express. "She can't understand what she's done for me. It's incredible. I don't know how she found the cancer but I can never thank her enough."

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