Smelling Cancer? - page 2

One of my nursing instructors told our class that she has acquired a smell for cancer, and when she walks in a room she can tell immediately if a patient has cancer. :confused: Do nurses... Read More

  1. by   wildmountainchild
    I've smelled it. But only when the cancer was very advanced. It has a musty, sweet/rotten odor to it. Quite distinct.

    If you ever have a pt w/ fungating cancer; it's that smell.
  2. by   jill48
    Yes, I can totally smell cancer. I thought everybody could. :uhoh21:
  3. by   TazziRN
    Quote from CRNI-ICU20
    Cadaver dogs have been trained for years to find dead people. My cousin trains these kinds of dogs, and her two top ones served at Ground Zero in NYC after 9-11. Her female laid down and put her paws over her face, because the smell of death was pervasive, and the dog could not 'hone in' on any one place....she nearly had a nervous breakdown over it and my cousin had to pull her out of the ranks for a few days until the dog could settle in
    Off topic, but I remember reading that search dogs working Ground Zero were getting so depressed that the handlers would hide from each others' dogs so that the dogs could have a successful find.
  4. by   jill48
    Quote from TazziRN
    Off topic, but I remember reading that search dogs working Ground Zero were getting so depressed that the handlers would hide from each others' dogs so that the dogs could have a successful find.
    I read that too! I found it amazing. Poor babies so sad.
  5. by   smk1
    so what is it that they are actually smelling? chemical by-products of abnormal metabolism from the accelerated cell growth?
  6. by   jill48
    Quote from SMK1
    so what is it that they are actually smelling? chemical by-products of abnormal metabolism from the accelerated cell growth?
    Not sure. Just remember reading that the dogs were getting depressed because all they found was dead people; had to plant live people in there just to get their hopes up. I'm assuming you were talking about the dogs. If not, sorry I'm a dork.:lol_hitti
  7. by   collegemomrn
    I to have experienced that acute ability to smell cancer. I am reluctant to share that most often, but have been right when I have shared. I think it is a very disticnt smell and not easily forgotten after smelling it once. I also worked a cancer unit for over a year and probably developed the sense of smell there.
  8. by   fultzymom
    I do know that there is a "smell" that people get right before they die. I can not describe it really well. But I always know when someone is getting close to death. It is almost like an amonia smell that they get. But as for actually smelling Cancer, I have never heard of that.
  9. by   rnin02
    My mom worked in nursing homes for years, and has told me she can "smell death" and would know when someone was going to die during her shift...not just her own patients either, she would be able to tell just walking thru a unit. Kinda creepy:uhoh21:
  10. by   firstyearstudent
    I wonder how this can be true because cancer is not really one disease, it is a catch-all term for malignant cell overgrowth. If someone told me they can smell small cell carcinoma of the lungs, I might believe them, but cancer?
  11. by   oldiebutgoodie
    Quote from firstyearstudent
    I wonder how this can be true because cancer is not really one disease, it is a catch-all term for malignant cell overgrowth. If someone told me they can smell small cell carcinoma of the lungs, I might believe them, but cancer?
    My thinking as well. For example, on one floor I worked on, there was a nurse who could "smell c-diff". However, usually the c-diff toxin test came back negative. Yes, certain things can have certain smells, but it certainly is not a definitive test, and definitely not evidence-based.

    Oldiebutgoodie
  12. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I know some can indeed "smell" it. I had a dog with cancer, and her veterinarian knew it by the "smell".

    so yea, there IS something to it!!!!!!
  13. by   HM2VikingRN
    I know that schizophrenia often has a certain odor so I believe that there may well be an odor associated with cancer.

close