If you’re thinking that this is a joke, it’s actually not! The Headline “Dogs Sniff Out Prostate Cancer” is featured on Web MD. Prostate cancer is no laughing matter either. According to the American Cancer Society, one in six men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. Of those, one in 35 will die from the disease.
“June 2, 2010 (San Francisco) — Dogs may be able to sniff out the smell of chemicals released into urine by prostate tumors, setting the stage for a new means of early prostate cancer detection.
In early tests, the approach produced fewer false positives than would be expected with the commonly used PSA test, French researchers report.”
If nothing else this study underscores the importance of finding new methods for early detection of prostate cancer as the Web MD article indicates.
“For the new study, researchers led by Jean-Nicolas Cornu, MD, also of Tenon Hospital, trained a Belgian Malinois — a shepherd breed used for detecting bombs and drugs — to identify urine from patients with confirmed prostate cancer and then to discriminate those samples from urine from healthy men. After about a year of training, the dog was put to the test. During 11 runs, the dog faced six urine samples, only one of which came from a man with prostate cancer. Its mission: To sit in front of the urine it considers cancer.
In 66 tests, the dog was correct 63 times. There were three false positives, in which the dog mistakenly identified samples from healthy men as being cancerous. And there were no false negatives.
And one of the three false positives might not have been that false; when the man who provided the urine sample had another biopsy, he turned out to have prostate cancer, Bigot says.”
The results of this study were pretty remarkable though it doesn’t sound like a very practical method for screening urine samples for prostate cancer. However, the researchers hope to identify which chemical the dog is reacting to in order to develop a better screening test for prostate cancer.