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Dogs Can Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer

It is a well established fact that the nose of a dog not only dominates his face, but his brain also. Olfactory ability of this creature is far more superior than humans and for this reason dogs are used to find illegal drugs, chemicals, explosive etc. However, a new study has showed another utility of the smelling capability of this cute human friend.

Dogs Can Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer
The study presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association in Orlando, Florida showed that dogs can detect the prostate cancer in humans by smelling the urine sample of the patient. It is very important to understand that how dogs can detect cancer cells in urine sample. Let’s understand this:

Scientific studies tell that there are Volatiles organic compounds (VOCs) in urine of patient suffering from cancer. These VOCs are produced by malignant cells and are proposed as cancer biomarkers. These volatile organic compounds are produced by the peroxidation of the cell membrane components as a result of change in some of the cellular proteins.

The Study

The study named as “Olfactory Detection of Prostate Cancer by Dogs Sniffing Urine: A Step Forward in Early Diagnosis” was conducted by Cornu and colleagues, and was published in February 2011 issue of the journal European Urology. The aim of the study was to evaluate the sensitivity and efficacy of detection of prostate cancer by dog by smelling the urine of the patient.

The study included urine samples from 66 patients who underwent prostate biopsy. Out of these, 33 patients had cancer and 33 had negative biopsies. A Belgian Malinois shepherd was trained for 24 months (using clicker training method) to smell and recognize the urine of people having prostate cancer. The olfactory ability of the dog was also cross checked in a double blind procedure before the final study. The dog was asked to signal to a urine sample containing VOC among six samples out of which one was cancer urine and other five were selected on hit and miss basis.

The dog determined 30 accurate cancer urine samples out of 33 samples. The sensitivity and specificity was 91 percent. The study established that trained dogs can be used to detect prostate cancer with impressive success rate.

Another research from Italian researchers found that dogs can detect prostate cancer by smelling the urine of the patients with 98% accuracy.
These studies are being viewed as real clinical opportunities for some advances in medical sciences as better diagnosis tools for the prostate cancer. The new prostate cancer detection process can be a low-cost and non-invasive one for the patients. Well, catching the attention of cancer researchers, cancer sniffing dogs are in news again.


Hailing from Delhi, Prateek Tiwari is an avid animal lover who believes in Mahatma Gandhi’s quote “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” A graduate in Biotechnology, he has vast knowledge about different breeds of pets and pet food that are both nutritious and promote healthy growth. In order to make people aware about pets and pet care, he shares his expertise through his blog posts.

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