Dog helps humans by sniffing out prostate cancer

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Prostate cancer
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A trained dog was shown to accurately sniff compounds in urine for early detection of prostate cancer.

According to a study published in the journal European Urology, a trained dog was able to identify volatile compounds - VOCs - that are cancer biomarkers with significant accuracy that could help with prostate cancer diagnosis.

Researchers used a Belgian Malinois shepherd, specially trained to smell prostate cancer in urine following a 24-month training period. After the training period, the dog's ability was tested. In the study, the shepherd was able to find prostate cancer with 91 percent accuracy.

The scientists obtained urine samples from 66 patients with elevated PSA level and prostate enlargement on digital rectal exam.

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The scientists froze the urine and then reheated the sample to test the dogs' ability to smell VOCs that signal prostate cancer.

All of the patients underwent prostate biopsy - 33 had cancer and 33 were negative. The dog found prostate cancer in 30 of 33 cases. In one of the three instances, re-biopsy confirmed the presence of prostate cancer, showing the dog's i91 percent accuracy in detecting cancer from urine odors.

In past studies, dogs have successfully sniffed out a variety of cancer types. The researchers say, based on the current study, dogs could be used to help diagnose the disease. Cancer cells have been shown to produce odors that our canine friends can help identify.

European Urology, Volume 59, issue 2, pages 183-316, February 2011, DOI: 10.1016/j.eururo.2010.10.006.
"Urine-Sniffing Dogs: Early Detection of Prostate Cancer"

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