Dogs detect prostate cancer with up to 98% accuracy

A new study recently published in the Journal of Urology has found that dogs are able to detect prostate cancer with up to 98 percent accuracy. The study was carried out by the Department of Urology at the Humanitas Clinical and Research Center in Milan. 


Dogs May Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer

Researchers analyzed urine samples from 900 men. Of the 900 men, 360 of them had prostate cancer while the other 540 did not. Using two specially trained German Shepherds, the men’s urine samples were sniffed to detect chemicals that were linked to prostate cancer. 

The two trained German Shepherds were able to detect the prostate cancer-specific chemicals linked to prostate cancer with extremely high accuracy.These prostate-cancer specific chemicals are otherwise known as volatile organic compounds.The first dog was able to detect prostate cancer with98.7 percent accuracy, while the second dog was able to detect prostate cancer with 97.6 percent accuracy.

This research supports prior tests performed by the charity, Medical Detection Dogs. Medical Detection Dogs is located in Milton Keynes and what they do is specially train dogs to detect odors associated with human disease. They also train dogs to help peoplewho have life-threatening medical illness or disease that need help keeping up with their regular daily lives.  

Dr. Claire Guest, the co-founder of the Medical Detection Dogs, said: “These results are spectacular. They offer us further proof that dogs have the ability to detect human cancer.” She also said the research found a 93 percent accuracy rate when detecting bladder cancer as well as prostate cancer. 

Past Studies Support Notion: Dogs May Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer

The research also supports prior studies that have found dogs are able to detect prostate cancer. In 2013, a study from Italian researchers found that dogs were able to detect prostate cancer from urine samples with 98 percent accuracy. In the study, urine samples from 677 men were analyzed; 320 of which had prostate cancer. The dogs were able to detect prostate cancer-specific volatile organic compounds with a combined accuracy of 98 percent. 

However, while the dogs were able to detect specific chemicals linked to prostate cancer, it is still unclear how dogs will be able to do this regularly in clinical practice. 

Dr. Guest also said: “'It is particularly exciting that we have such a high success rate in the detection of prostate cancer, for which the existing tests are woefully inadequate.”

Prostate Cancer Diagnosis Today

Right now, there is no perfect, single test for detecting prostate cancer. The current tests available which are also the most commonly used in clinical practice by urologists are the Prostate-Specific Antigen blood test, the digital rectal exam, and the prostate biopsy – all of which must be used in conjunction with one another in order to get a full picture of whether a man has prostate cancer or not. 

PSA Blood Test

In regards to the PSA test, there is often controversy surrounding whether a man should have his PSA tested or not. This is due to the fact that the PSA test is not specific for prostate cancer. 

There have been major improvements in the prostate biopsy though. The new MRI guided prostate biopsy is now being used as a more accurate and innovative technique in detecting prostate cancer, compared to the traditional transurethral ultrasound biopsy. The MRI guided biopsy is more accurate given its ability to directly target suspicious lesions on the prostate, thanks to the MRI imaging. The standard TRUS biopsy is limited due to its ‘blind’ approach at targeting suspicious lesions without the MRI imaging. 

Could dogs be part of the future of advancements in prostate cancer detection?