Dogs really are man’s best friend – especially when it comes to sniffing out potentially lethal cancers, a new study has found.
Research suggests that dogs can detect prostate cancer in roughly 98% of cases, simply through sniffing a man’s urine.
The findings have been hailed as “spectacular” by the co-founder of charity Medical Detection Dogs.
The study, which was conducted by the Department of Urology at the Humanitas Clinical and Research Centre in Milan, examined two German Shepherds sniffing the urine of 900 men.
Out of the participants, 360 of men had prostate cancer and 540 did not.
The fascinating research revealed that one dog spotted the cancer for 98.7% of cases, while the other was also correct 97.6% of the time.
Scientists believe this is because dogs can detect specific volatile organic compounds of prostate cancer in urine.
The research was published in the Journal Of Urology.
In addition to their prostate cancer detection skills, dogs have previously been credited with being able to sniff out breast cancer and thyroid cancer.
Commenting on the amazing findings, Dr Claire Guest, co-founder of the Buckinghamshire charity Medical Detection Dogs said: “These results are spectacular. They offer us further proof that dogs have the ability to detect human cancer.
“It’s particularly exciting that we have such a high success rate in the detection of prostate cancer, for which the existing tests are woefully inadequate.”
In 2012, just under 11,000 men died from prostate cancer in the UK, according to Cancer Research UK. Meanwhile over 40,000 were diagnosed with it in 2011.
Dr Guest added: “Over the years, millions of pounds of NHS funding has been poured into the traditional test methods, yet there has been little improvement in their reliability.”
This, she revealed, is a huge drain on resources and can cause unnecessary stress for patients.
“The detection dogs provide an alternative solution that yields consistently accurate results,” she said. “If our detection dogs were a machine, there would be huge demand for them.”
But, urologist Dr. Stacy Loeb of New York University added that it’s too soon to say whether the dogs could be put to work screening men for prostate cancer.
She told NBC News: “What [the researchers] don’t say is how good these compounds are for predicting prostate cancer and, more important, for predicting aggressive prostate cancer.”