Trained dogs can sniff out prostate cancer from urine samples with over 90% accuracy, scientists have found.
The findings from an Italy-based team of researchers raise the possibility of canines’ sense of smell helping doctors identify a number of human cancers and infectious diseases.
In the study published in the Journal of Urology, two female German shepherd dogs sniffed urine samples from 900 men, 360 with prostate cancer and 540 without.
Both animals were right in well over 90% of cases, ‘The Guardian’ reported.
The researchers, from the Humanitas Clinical and Research Centre in Milan and other institutes, admitted further work is needed to determine how valuable the dogs’ skill might be in identifying, in daily practice, the signs of prostate cancer.
Currently, prostate cancer is detected by a blood test known as the PSA test, by physical examination and by biopsy.
The PSA test is not routinely offered because it is not considered reliable enough for screening.
The study results were welcomed by the Buckinghamshire-based charity Medical Detection Dogs which has been training dogs to sniff out diseases. It has carried out similar research which showed dogs can achieve 93 per cent accuracy.
Co-founder Claire Guest of Medical Detection Dogs said the results offer further proof that dogs have the ability to detect human cancer.
“It is particularly exciting that we have such a high success rate in the detection of prostate cancer, for which the existing tests are woefully inadequate,” she said.