The future of cancer screening may involve four paws and a wet nose. According to a group of Italian researchers, dogs can be trained to detect different types of prostate cancers in humans.
The findings of a recent study were presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association in Orlando, Fla. Dr. Gianluigi Taverna and his colleagues of Humanitas Research Hospital in Milan trained two dogs to sniff urine samples of 677 people, including 320 prostate cancer patients and 357 healthy individuals. The dogs detected the cancer with a combined accuracy of 98 percent. According to researchers, the dogs are sniffing out chemicals called volatile organic compounds, which are emitted by the tumors.
The notion of using dogs to assist with cancer screenings is not a new one—studies published in 2004, 2006, and 2011 showed promising results of dogs’ being able to detect lung cancer in human patients. And at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, researchers are studying whether dogs can find ovarian cancer in tissue and blood samples.
Just another reason to call our four-legged pals "man's best friend."