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Dogs help detect prostate cancer with surprising talent

Lana Bandoim's picture

Dogs may help in the fight against prostate cancer because of their unique abilities to detect it. A study presented at the American Urological Association reveals that dogs can find the cancer through smell, and they have a high accuracy rating. The researchers believe the animals can be trained to quickly identify the cancer in men.

Sniffing out prostate cancer

The dogs used in the study had an accuracy rating of 98 percent, and they were cheaper and faster than some of the tests used in cancer detection. Previous research has shown that dogs are capable of sniffing out several types of cancers and can be trained to do this on a regular basis. However, they have not become a standard way of detecting cancer, and researchers are not certain how they will be added to the medical community.

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The study had a control group of samples, and the dogs were able to detect the cancer in patients who ranged from the late-stage to early-stage of the disease. Their versatility may prove to be useful in the future, and scientists have suggested they may be combined with tests.

Using dogs to detect cancer

Dogs have appeared in other studies focused on cancer, and the animals have shown their capabilities to researchers in several countries. Their powerful sense of smell could be an interesting detection tool once medical professionals figure out the best way to use it to help patients. Dogs have been able to sniff out ovarian cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and other diseases, but some doctors doubt their potential.

One of the main issues is how to use dogs effectively in cancer detection while maintaining a high accuracy. Researchers have been working on ways to copy their incredible sense of smell and transfer this power to a machine or test.

Image: Cyril Deug/Wikimedia Commons