The largest study testing dogs' ability to sniff out cancer proved what many researchers already know: They're darn good at it.
The power of dogs’ noses is well documented, and that reputation continues to improve. Researchers have discovered that our canine companions’ snouts may be more accurate than advanced laboratory procedures when it comes to detecting certain forms of cancer.
Researchers at the Istituto Clinico Humanitas in Italy have trained two dogs that can sniff out the scent of prostate cancer in urine samples with a success rate of 98 percent, a new study reports. The pool of over 600 subjects makes this the largest study ever conducted using cancer-sniffing dogs.
Smelling Out Cancer
Researchers used two professionally trained dogs to test their ability to detect prostate cancer from a pool 677 people. One group of participants was cancer-free; the other group ranged from individuals with low-risk tumors to those whose cancer had metastasized to other tissues.
The two dogs sniffed urine samples, and identified signs of prostate cancer with a combined 98 percent accuracy. In a few cases, the dogs identified cancer when it wasn’t there — called a false positive — accounting for the remaining 2 percent of cases. That success rate represents a vast improvement over the standard Prostate-Specific Antigen test, which has a false positive rate as high as 80 percent, Bloomberg reports.
The results were presented Saturday at the American Urological Association in Boston.