Dogs can detect prostate cancer

A new study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association in Orlando, has shown that highly-trained dogs are able to detect prostate cancer in urine samples with a 98 per cent accuracy rate.

The lead author of the study, Dr Gianluigi Taverna, said of the results, “This study gives us a standardized method of diagnosis that is reproducible, low cost and non-invasive.”

The study involved 902 participants of which 362 were men with prostate cancer, and 540 men and women in generally good health, as well as some participants with other types of cancer, made up the control group. Each participant supplied a urine sample.

The two dogs, female German Shepherds, were trained for about five months prior to the study. The dogs were instructed to sit in front of any sample where they detected prostate cancer. The team in the room with the dogs did not know which samples were which, but those observing from outside the room did.

The first dog achieved a 100 per cent accuracy rate in detecting prostate cancer samples, and a 98 per cent accuracy rate in eliminating samples which did not come from prostate cancer patients.

The second dog achieved a 98.6 per cent accuracy rate in detecting samples from prostate cancer patients, and a 96.4 per cent accuracy rate in eliminating non-prostate cancer samples.

Overall the dogs found 16 false positives and four false negatives out of a total of 902 samples.

Dr Taverna explained that, while these results are very encouraging, dog-detection is a technique which should be combined with other methods of detection.

Do you think this low-cost and non-invasive technique should be pursued? Or is it a bit ridiculous to have dogs doing the jobs of doctors?