Dogs with a Nose for Prostate Cancer


When I first heard that dogs were being used in a medical trial to detect prostate cancer, I imagined a crack team of crotch-sniffing canines. They are indeed using their powerful sense of smell, but their noses are going nowhere near the family jewels.
Eight dogs are currently being trained at Milton Keynes University Hospital to detect chemical signals of prostate cancer in urine samples.
Apparently, canines can detect the equivalent of a single drop of blood in two Olympic-sized swimming pools, which is why scientists want to put their incredible sniffing powers to medical use.
I did a little internet digging and found a handful of similar studies with very promising results. In one report, dog handlers from the Italian Ministry of Defence successfully trained German Shepard dogs to detect the smell of prostate cancer. They were able to correctly identify urine samples with prostate cancer 99% of the time and those without cancer 97% of the time. Hopefully, the Milton Keynes research will show a similar success rate.
Prostate cancer is incredibly difficult to diagnose, but the canine nose could make a profound difference. It’s yet another example of why we can’t live without man’s best friend.

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