Dogs are already well-known for their keen sense of smell, but soon they could be using that talent to save lives — by detecting prostate cancer.
"There's a new weapon in the fight against prostate cancer: trained dogs. Italian researchers say the dogs can be taught to sniff out prostate cancer in human urine with near-perfect accuracy." (Via Al Jazeera)
That's 98 percent accuracy, to be exact. Researchers in Italy took urine samples from around 300 men with prostate cancer and about 350 without. Then put the dogs' sniffers to work. (Via WOIO)
The two dogs participating in the study were trained to sniff out samples containing chemicals produced by prostate cancer, then lie down beside them.
Remarkably, the doggie diagnosis was about four times more accurate than traditional tests for prostate cancer. That despite many of the samples coming from men with other types of cancer and diseases. (Via WWL-TV)
Michigan urologist Brian Stork told NBC the use of the dogs to detect the cancer is groundbreaking.
"The possibility of using dogs [to identify] cancer is something most would never have considered possible a decade or two ago. It's an interesting concept that 'man's best friend' could help save your life."
But some are considering the new technique just that, though: a concept. As The Inquisitr writes, "Patients should not rely on their pets to diagnose or rule out any illness. The studies were performed in a controlled environment with volunteers who were already diagnosed by a medical doctor."
Still, dogs have shown success smelling out cancer in other studies before.
"Dogs have been used to sniff out lung tumors, and now they're being tested to see if they can detect ovarian cancer." (Via WTVT)
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer kills some 29,000 men each year.
The findings were reported at an annual meeting of the American Urological Association Sunday.