LONG ISLAND, NY – Traditional screening methods for prostate cancer such as a digital rectal exam and PSA screening has aided doctors in the past with the early detection of prostate cancer. The problem however with these methods is that their results aren’t always accurate. While the PSA test for example is a valuable tool in the early detection of prostate cancer about 3 out of 4 reported cases have yielded false results. There is however a promising new screening technique on the horizon with the help of none other than man’s best friend.
Detecting prostate cancer by smell
Dogs have a remarkable sense of smell. While humans have around 5 million olfactory cells in our noses – olfactory cells are receptors that help us to distinguish diverse smells – canines however have as many as 200 million. It is this same intricate sense of smell that prompted researchers in Italy to conduct a study into the potential of using dogs to specifically diagnose prostate cancer. This could ultimately provide an alternative to the current blood test used, the PSA test (prostate specific antigen). The study was led by the Humanitas Clinical and Research Center in Milan, Italy. Researchers collected 362 samples of urine from men diagnosed with prostate cancer and at varying stages of the disease for use in the study.
Training the dogs
Two three-year old German Shepherds trained by the Italian Armed Forces for bomb detection were retrained to detect organic compounds connected to prostate cancer in the urine that was collected. Upon completion of their training the dogs were then put to the test as urine samples from the men with prostate cancer were then situated indiscriminately among those from others sample taken. The researchers found the results very enlightening
|Dog #1||Dog #2|
|Identified all of the prostate cancer urine samples correctly||Identified only 98.6% of the prostate cancer urine samples correctly|
|7 of the non-prostate cancer samples were incorrectly identified||13 of the non-prostate cancer samples were incorrectly identified|
In the study which they published in the Journal of Urology, researchers claimed that a thoroughly trained canine could smell out prostate cancer with remarkable precision. However, they say that more tests are required in order to determine whether the dogs can perform consistently as the dogs in the study had. With their tremendous sense of smell dogs could soon be leading the way towards detecting prostate cancer rendering previous methods obsolete and that my friends is nothing to bark at.
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery, and an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and professor of urology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel’s Medical A-Team and the chief medical correspondent for am970 in New York City, where he is heard Sundays at 10 a.m.