Man’s Best Friend Sniffs Out Prostate Cancer

sniffMan’s best friend is right! “Highly-trained dogs are able to detect prostate cancer in urine with 98 percent accuracy, according to a study presented May 18 at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association in Orlando,” Fox News reports. 

In the study of 902 participants, researchers trained two dogs to screen urine samples for prostate cancer. The first dog identified samples from men with prostate cancer with 100% accuracy; the second correctly pinpointed 98.6% of samples provided by prostate cancer patients. “Using dogs to recognize prostate cancer might help reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies and better pinpoint patients at high risk for the disease,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Gianluigi Taverna, tells Reuters.Taverna adds that the screening process is also inexpensive and non-invasive.

Some healthcare professionals are skeptical. Dr. J. Kellogg Parsons believes that the results, derived from just a single study using German Shepherds, need to be more comprehensive. “The results need to be validated in different patient populations and using different dogs. If the results can be replicated, then we need to zero in on the biological or chemical factor(s) that are at play,” Kellogg Parsons continues.

Dogs have an incredibly keen sense of smell, with “four times the number of olfactory cells as humans,” according to Discover. Scientists are also running trials to test whether dogs can identify other relatively common forms of cancer, such as breast, ovarian, lung, melanoma, and/or bladder cancers.

“This type of training can work with any dog, and not just German Shepherds. There are some genius 100% full blooded German Shepherds and some that are dumber than paint. It’s not the breed but the dog that counts,” says Vince, Owner & CEO ofSouthland Dog Training. “Each dog is an individual that’s why we temperament test all the dogs we work with. Temperament tests help determine where a dog is in terms of intelligence, stability and train-ability.”