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Tags cancer , psychic surgery

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Old 11th April 2012, 09:50 AM   #1
ExMinister
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Need help debunking: Cancer has a bad odor?

Does anyone know whether cancer has a bad odor?

I have a friend who is all convinced that psychic surgery is real because of a book she read. So now I have read the book, and the author claims that while she was involved assisting in psychic surgery, cancer always had a terrible odor, like rotting meat.

My thought: The so-called psychic surgeon was probably using raw meat as pretend tumors to be removed.

So, in reality, does anyone know if cancer has a bad odor?
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Old 11th April 2012, 09:58 AM   #2
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Um, one thing I know about cancer is that there are a whole lot of different types and they all have different symptoms. There are some cancers that seem to have a detectable smell, but not anything that a human can detect reliably. I have seen articles about cancer sniffing dogs but they are quite highly trained and their trainers point out that only the best tracking breeds can be used for this technique.
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Old 11th April 2012, 10:00 AM   #3
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This is probably one of those cases where a woo hears about something real (i.e. detecting volatile organic compounds) and goes all scientifically illiterate all over it...

EDIT: Yeah, what Weak Kitten said...

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Old 11th April 2012, 10:05 AM   #4
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http://www.nhs.uk/news/2011/08August...ng-cancer.aspx

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-14557224
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Old 11th April 2012, 10:06 AM   #5
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I imagine colon cancer doesn't smell too good, but then neither would a healthy colon.
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Old 11th April 2012, 10:19 AM   #6
Yuri Nalyssus
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Originally Posted by ExMinister View Post
... the author claims that while she was involved assisting in psychic surgery, cancer always had a terrible odor, like rotting meat.

My thought: The so-called psychic surgeon was probably using raw meat as pretend tumors to be removed.
Agreed; the main thing that comes to mind which smells of rotting meat is what we scientists call "rotting meat" which is probably what the psychic surgeon was palming and then pretending was the tumour while ripping off his victims.

Originally Posted by ExMinister View Post
So, in reality, does anyone know if cancer has a bad odor?
Vets occasionally remove tumours from animals which have been left far longer than would be the case if the patient was a human and had reasonable quality health care. In those cases parts of the tumour can go necrotic and yes, those bits are effectively rotting meat and smell disgusting. Otherwise tumours smell the same (to humans) as any other living tissue - the slightly metallicky smell of blood. Some say that dogs can 'smell' some types of cancer but humans have nothing like the sense of smell that dogs do, to us they all smell the same.

No matter what cancer smelled like though that would have no bearing on psychic surgery - it's fraud every time, pure and simple, no question.

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Old 11th April 2012, 12:04 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ExMinister View Post
My thought: The so-called psychic surgeon was probably using raw meat as pretend tumors to be removed.

So, in reality, does anyone know if cancer has a bad odor?
I think you are right. Perhaps the meat he used was starting to decompose?

I am a pathologist, and as such I handle cancers on a daily basis, right after they have been removed by real surgeons. So from my experience of examining thousands??? (Stopped counting years ago), I can assure you that they don't have a particular smell.
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Old 11th April 2012, 01:17 PM   #8
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Do nasal tumours smell any different?
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Old 11th April 2012, 01:18 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ExMinister View Post
Does anyone know whether cancer has a bad odor?
Yes, it smells like cigarettes.
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Old 11th April 2012, 01:30 PM   #10
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Extensive cancer often does have a fowl odor. Small tumors, not so much, but apparently some cancer odors can be detected by dogs.
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Old 11th April 2012, 01:34 PM   #11
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Cool

Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Extensive cancer often does have a fowl odor. Small tumors, not so much, but apparently some cancer odors can be detected by dogs.
Do they use bird-dogs?
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Old 11th April 2012, 01:44 PM   #12
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Bad breath can be a side effect of Chemotherapy. A woman I worked with was unapproachable for a couple of weeks while undergoing treatment.
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Old 11th April 2012, 01:47 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by LarianLeQuella View Post
Do they use bird-dogs?
No no, it smells like chicken.

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Old 11th April 2012, 02:00 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by jli View Post
I think you are right. Perhaps the meat he used was starting to decompose?

I am a pathologist, and as such I handle cancers on a daily basis, right after they have been removed by real surgeons. So from my experience of examining thousands??? (Stopped counting years ago), I can assure you that they don't have a particular smell.
Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Extensive cancer often does have a fowl odor. Small tumors, not so much, but apparently some cancer odors can be detected by dogs.
Why does extensive cancer have a bad smell, but not individual cancer specimens?

ETA: Is it a matter of the tissue in extensive cancer being necrotic?
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Old 11th April 2012, 02:32 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by LarianLeQuella View Post
Do they use bird-dogs?
Thanks. Spell check doesn't catch homophones and my brain makes a lot of mistakes.
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Old 11th April 2012, 02:34 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by ExMinister View Post
Why does extensive cancer have a bad smell, but not individual cancer specimens?

ETA: Is it a matter of the tissue in extensive cancer being necrotic?
Yes. A tumor is just cells gone wild, they may or may not have a distinctive odor. But eventually malignant tumors both necrose in the center as they outstrip their blood supply and they rob surrounding tissue of its blood supply as well.
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Old 11th April 2012, 04:09 PM   #17
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Thanks for all the info. Interesting and appreciated.

I guess I won't be able to debunk from this angle. Sounds like it is POSSIBLE that the tumors could have had a terrible odor, assuming it was advanced enough disease.
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Old 13th April 2012, 05:34 AM   #18
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Why would anyone who was as goofy as to believe in psychic surgery care whether tumors really do or do not smell bad? By that I mean, if you could demonstrate that tumors really don't stink, 100% of the time, do you think it would change this person's mind?

If you haven't tried it yet, you might attempt to find a video debunking psychic surgery, showing exactly how it is done. There are a number of them.

Randi's Tonight Show appearance

Here's Criss Angel doing it all over-dramatically with bad music, but the bit with the wine glass helps show just how far a skilled person can go with sleight of hand.

Randi also had one of his Psychic Investigator shows that featured this, but I can't find a good clip of it that. As I recall it had someone really doing this (I can't recall whether it was a charlatan or someone doing it in an office setting just to demonstrate how real it could appear to be off of a stage.)
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Old 13th April 2012, 07:01 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by jasonpatterson View Post
Why would anyone who was as goofy as to believe in psychic surgery care whether tumors really do or do not smell bad? By that I mean, if you could demonstrate that tumors really don't stink, 100% of the time, do you think it would change this person's mind?

If you haven't tried it yet, you might attempt to find a video debunking psychic surgery, showing exactly how it is done. There are a number of them.

Randi's Tonight Show appearance

Here's Criss Angel doing it all over-dramatically with bad music, but the bit with the wine glass helps show just how far a skilled person can go with sleight of hand.

Randi also had one of his Psychic Investigator shows that featured this, but I can't find a good clip of it that. As I recall it had someone really doing this (I can't recall whether it was a charlatan or someone doing it in an office setting just to demonstrate how real it could appear to be off of a stage.)
I have read half a dozen books on sleight of hand so am familiar with a lot of this, and I have Randi's book on faith healing. I have also watched him demonstrate how it's done, probably the videos you are referring to, though I also can't remember where I saw them.

At any rate, we've already talked about much of the above. But I do think if I could have shown her that this person had told a baldfaced lie (about tumors having an odor), it would undermine this author's credibility with her just as it would with me, and that would be the end of it. Maybe that's wishful thinking on my part!

In fact, it probably is wishful thinking on my part. But you never know.

Reading through it skeptically myself, there were really very few facts that I thought could at least be checked, and this was one of them.
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Old 13th April 2012, 07:29 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by ExMinister View Post
Why does extensive cancer have a bad smell, but not individual cancer specimens?

ETA: Is it a matter of the tissue in extensive cancer being necrotic?
Even large cancers don't always have a smell comparable to rotting meat. Not even if they do have extensive necrosis (in my experience). And the size that a "psychic surgeon" handles is small enough to be palmed by him (this is a close up setting) is not what would be considered a large cancer which would be prone to extensive necrosis. I think you could make a good case with your friend, that what the book describes is in all probability not cancer.
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Old 13th April 2012, 09:43 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by jli View Post
Even large cancers don't always have a smell comparable to rotting meat. Not even if they do have extensive necrosis (in my experience). And the size that a "psychic surgeon" handles is small enough to be palmed by him (this is a close up setting) is not what would be considered a large cancer which would be prone to extensive necrosis. I think you could make a good case with your friend, that what the book describes is in all probability not cancer.
Are you a smoker? Just curious since smokers lose their sense of smell and it doesn't come back for a couple years after quitting.

However, I agree that not all cancers smell, but many of them do and often the patient also complains about the odor.
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Old 13th April 2012, 09:53 AM   #22
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My cat years ago started to smell really bad as she was nearing death.

That's pretty much all I have to contribute to this conversation.
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Old 13th April 2012, 11:31 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by jli View Post
Even large cancers don't always have a smell comparable to rotting meat. Not even if they do have extensive necrosis (in my experience). And the size that a "psychic surgeon" handles is small enough to be palmed by him (this is a close up setting) is not what would be considered a large cancer which would be prone to extensive necrosis. I think you could make a good case with your friend, that what the book describes is in all probability not cancer.
Thanks, jli. You seem to have extensive experience with this and I don't doubt you. Or Skeptic Ginger.

The consensus seems to be that usually there is no odor but sometimes, even if rarely, there is. That being the case, and the fact that there is some ambiguity to it, I will probably have to ditch this idea.
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Old 13th April 2012, 11:39 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Are you a smoker? Just curious since smokers lose their sense of smell and it doesn't come back for a couple years after quitting.

However, I agree that not all cancers smell, but many of them do and often the patient also complains about the odor.
I am (and has always been) a non-smoker. But I guess I do have big tolerance when it comes to bad smells. Where does your experience of what cancers smell like come from? Not that I doubt you. I am just trying to figure out why your experience differs from mine.
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Old 13th April 2012, 11:50 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by ExMinister View Post
Thanks, jli. You seem to have extensive experience with this and I don't doubt you. Or Skeptic Ginger.

The consensus seems to be that usually there is no odor but sometimes, even if rarely, there is. That being the case, and the fact that there is some ambiguity to it, I will probably have to ditch this idea.
If you can't convince your friend that cancer doesn't always smell like rotting meat, you could perhaps show her a few examples of how bad things can go. There is an entry on what's the harm: http://whatstheharm.net/psychicsurgery.html
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Old 14th April 2012, 05:17 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by jli View Post
I am (and has always been) a non-smoker. But I guess I do have big tolerance when it comes to bad smells. Where does your experience of what cancers smell like come from? Not that I doubt you. I am just trying to figure out why your experience differs from mine.
Many years as a nurse in a number of hospitals including a long stint on a bone marrow transplant unit. Currently I'm a nurse practitioner in the infectious disease field but I've been around for a long time before that. I've taken care of many oncology patients.


I should add though, that both my parents died at home of cancer (15 years apart) and I don't recall any odor except the stupid cat litter box when my mom passed.
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Old 14th April 2012, 05:38 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by ExMinister View Post
Does anyone know whether cancer has a bad odor?

I have a friend who is all convinced that psychic surgery is real because of a book she read. So now I have read the book, and the author claims that while she was involved assisting in psychic surgery, cancer always had a terrible odor, like rotting meat.

My thought: The so-called psychic surgeon was probably using raw meat as pretend tumors to be removed.

So, in reality, does anyone know if cancer has a bad odor?
Nurses have told me that cancer wards do have a different odor from other wards in hospitals.
I never noticed this on hospital visits but someone who works there would.
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Old 15th April 2012, 01:31 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
,,,,, I've taken care of many oncology patients.
Perhaps what you smelled wasn't the cancers. It could be metabolic products excreted with sweat (or otherwise). It is not something that I know for a fact. But it makes sense, and would make the ends meet.
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Old 15th April 2012, 01:54 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by jasonpatterson View Post
If you haven't tried it yet, you might attempt to find a video debunking psychic surgery
This is my favourite - http://www.metacafe.com/watch/72925/...blaines_heart/

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Old 15th April 2012, 09:22 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Yuri Nalyssus View Post
Awesome, thank you!
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Old 15th April 2012, 10:06 AM   #31
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Small diamines such as hexamethylenediamine are catabolic product of the degradation of amino acids and have really bad smell as the names, cadaverine and putrecine, indicate. Skin cancer victims often emit small amount of hexamethylenediamine that can be detected by good sniffers, such as dogs and me. I kept telling H Dad that there is something wrong with our old dog because I get whiff of really bad smell. We took the dog to the vet before we went for vacation one summer, but on the way to the island in Maine our dog started bleeding. The locall vet in Maine found a bad case of tumor and we had to put him to sleep. I still can't understand why the vet at home did not find the advanced case of tumor just a few days earlier.

I heard others, especcially hospice workers, say that the advanced case of skin cancer often have noticeable bad smell.

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Old 15th April 2012, 10:16 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by jli View Post
Perhaps what you smelled wasn't the cancers. It could be metabolic products excreted with sweat (or otherwise). It is not something that I know for a fact. But it makes sense, and would make the ends meet.
I fail to see why it matters whether the source of the odor is the tumor or the result of the tumor.
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Old 15th April 2012, 10:11 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I fail to see why it matters whether the source of the odor is the tumor or the result of the tumor.
It matters only in the context of the original post. If I understood ExMinister correctly, it was the smell of the lump shown by the psychic surgeon that was the convincer. Not the smell of the patient.
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Old 23rd April 2012, 11:24 AM   #34
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Just a little bit on this in a NOVA video from a while back about dogs and their ability to smell some of the chemicals peculiar to cancer. Immediately following is a story about a dog that smells when a boy is going into a diabetes-caused hypoglycemia:

At 1:33:13:
YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE
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