Dogs Can Detect Prostate Cancer


Dogs, after recent laboratory studies, have been shown that they can detect prostate cancer with a 98 percent rate of accuracy. According to researchers in Italy last week, it was amazing how the dogs carry a weird, innate ability to sniff out a disease which kills a national average of 30,000 men in the United States every year.

Along with other recent studies testing whether or not dogs could detect various types of cancers, researchers have found that dogs are able to sniff out the byproducts and residue of certain cancers. Even though she was not involved in the study, New York University urologist Dr. Stacy Loeb commented that dogs were able to detect the byproducts of cancerous cells “with a high degree of accuracy.”

As it is currently known, sniffing out prostate cancer has been the most successful of the administered trials. While the process is not yet ready to be used in medical facilities across the globe, researchers state that there remains huge potential for it to be used in the near future.

Italian researcher Gianluigi Taverna, with the help of colleagues in Milan, collected 320 urine samples from men who had prostate cancer and took 357 samples from men without the cancer. The samples from the men with prostate cancer were all of varying phases, from early stages and small tumors, to late stages with spreading cancer cells. Some of the samples from the group of men without prostate cancer also had other diseases and disorders, which included other types of cancer.

Two different dogs put to the test were able to detect every single occurrence of prostate cancer. One of the dogs reached false positives only 2 percent of the time when put in front of the urine samples. The other dog fared nearly as well, with very accurate results. Together, the dogs reached a 98 percent rate of accurately identifying the urine samples from men with prostate cancer. Their results were promptly given to the American Urological Association at their yearly conference.

In their report, the Italian researchers stated that what was once thought to be a myth has been turned into a “real clinical opportunity.” The data provided through having dogs identify the byproducts and residue from cancer cells in urine presents a new opportunity for detecting cancer, according to urologist Dr. Brian Stork of Michigan’s West Shore Urology. He also commented on the fascinating idea that “man’s best friend could help save your life.”

However, researchers failed to state how beneficial the byproducts from the cancer cells actually are in terms of signaling low-risk prostate cancer versus prostate cancer that is aggressive or in its late stages. While technology has enabled easy diagnosis of whether or not a man has prostate cancer, there needs to be more tools available to detect terminal prostate cancer, according to Loeb. Since prostate cancer often develops slowly, it is harder to distinguish between lesser risk and higher risk cases in patients.

Now that research by cancer researchers has suggested that dogs can amazingly detect prostate cancer accurately in urine samples provided by affected men, the scientific community across the world remains very hopeful that dogs can perhaps be used to sniff out this disease, as well as other types of cancer.

By Scott Gaudinier

NBC News
Bloomberg Businessweek
Orlando Sentinel

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