Detecting prostate cancer may go to the dogs.
Italian researchers say they’ve trained two female German shepherd dogs to sniff out prostate cancer and the canines have greater than 90% accuracy.
The research team from the Humanitas Clinical and Research Center in Milan, Italy collected urine samples from 362 men diagnosed with prostate cancer at various stages of the disease. They also collected urine samples from 418 men and 122 women who were either healthy, had a different kind of cancer or who had a different health condition.
They then trained Zoe and Liu, three-year-old bomb detection dogs who worked with the Italian armed forces, to detect specific volatile organic compounds in urine associated with prostate cancer.
After the dogs were retrained, they were tested using batches of six urine samples from the men with prostate cancer, positioned at random among the non-prostate cancer urine samples.
One dog correctly identified all of the prostate cancer urine samples and misidentified seven of the non-prostate cancer samples, or 1.3%. The other dog correctly identified 98.6% of the prostate cancer urine samples and misidentified 13 of the non-prostate cancer samples, or 3.6%.
The researchers say the study, published in the Journal of Urology, demonstrates that a rigorously trained dog could sniff out prostate cancer samples with high accuracy. But, more tests are needed to see how well the dogs perform when faced with urine samples collected from men who are being examined for possible prostate cancer.