Dogs may help spot human prostate cancers - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Dogs may help spot human prostate cancers

© iStockphoto / Thinkstock © iStockphoto / Thinkstock
By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay News) -- Dogs can be trained to sniff out evidence of prostate cancer in human urine with near-perfect accuracy, Italian researchers report.

Two specially trained dogs were able to detect organic chemicals released into urine by prostate cancers with a combined accuracy rate of 98 percent, according to findings scheduled for presentation on Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association in Orlando, Fla.

"With our study, we have demonstrated that the use of dogs might represent in the future a real clinical opportunity if used together with common diagnostic tools," such as the prostate cancer blood test called PSA, biopsy and imaging scans, said Dr. Gianluigi Taverna, a researcher with Humanitas Research Hospital in Milan.

The research team trained and tested the dogs using urine samples taken from 677 people, including 320 prostate cancer patients and 357 healthy individuals. The prostate cancer patients ran the gamut from men with very low-risk tumors up to men whose cancer had spread to other organs.

Researchers trained the two dogs using hundreds of urine samples taken from both healthy people and those with prostate cancer. Prostate cancer tumors produce chemicals called volatile organic compounds, which easily evaporate into the air and produce a scent that can be detected by the highly sensitive canine nose.

The dogs received a reward when they caught the scent of a cancer-infected sample and sat in front of it. "Training was a full-time job for the team, who worked five days a week," Taverna said.

The dogs were then tested using a separate set of urine samples, because "dogs have an incredible memory and might simply be picking up and recalling individual scents" from the training samples, he said.

One dog proved able to accurately detect the presence of prostate cancer 98.9 percent of the time, while the other had an accuracy rating of 97.3 percent.

Taverna said the results show that canines could prove a valuable asset in diagnosing prostate cancer.

"Our standardized method is reproducible, low cost and non-invasive for the patients," he said. "The potential of using a dog for recognizing prostate cancer might reduce unnecessary prostate biopsies and pinpoint patients at high risk for prostate cancer."

Previous research has shown dogs' ability to detect cancer and other diseases. For example, a recent study found that dogs could accurately identify patients with lung cancer by smelling their breath, said Dr. Charles Ryan, an associate professor of medicine and urology at the University of California, San Francisco, Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

But Ryan remains skeptical regarding the regular use of canines for cancer detection.

"I would say it's very interesting and it would be of interest to dog owners and the public, but I'm not sure how we would integrate it into the day-to-day clinical care of patients," Ryan said.

He added that bringing dogs into prostate cancer detection could be particularly problematic.

A debate currently is raging over whether prostate cancer is overdetected and overtreated, given that most men develop the cancer late in their life and end up dying of other causes. Those who are treated for prostate tumors often suffer problems such as impotence and incontinence, leading some doctors to argue that it might be better to leave prostate tumors undetected.

"Screening for prostate cancer is a very controversial area, and while I would like to think dogs could solve that problem, I don't think that's a possibility," Ryan said. "That said, it's fascinating to think as a scientist these things are out there and actually exist."

Because this study's findings were presented at a meeting, they should be considered preliminary until they've been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

For more information on prostate cancer, visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
  • More From wfmj.comMore>>

  • Ohio police: Wedding guest tries to steal gifts

    Ohio police: Wedding guest tries to steal gifts

    DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - Police in Dayton say a wedding guest tried to make off with checks and cash for the newlyweds. Officers were called to the wedding reception late Saturday night after workers noticed that a safe had been emptied out. Police say about $6,800 was found in unopened wedding cards inside a tuxedo garment bag belonging to one of the guests. A police report says surveillance video showed a man entering the office and later walking out with the garment bag. The man told police he...More >>
    DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - Police in Dayton say a wedding guest tried to make off with checks and cash for the newlyweds. Officers were called to the wedding reception late Saturday night after workers noticed that a safe had been emptied out. Police say about $6,800 was found in unopened wedding cards inside a tuxedo garment bag belonging to one of the guests. A police report says surveillance video showed a man entering the office and later walking out with the garment bag. The man told police he...More >>
  • Flying club remembers 4 killed in Ohio plane crash

    Flying club remembers 4 killed in Ohio plane crash

    CLEVELAND (AP) - Members of a flying club held a candlelight vigil to remember four Ohio college students killed a week ago when a small plane crashed just after taking off near Cleveland. Friends and family members were among the 80 people who gathered Sunday night near the crash site in Willoughby Hills. Federal officials say the pilot of the plane reported he was having trouble climbing just after takeoff and was trying to return to the airport. All four people aboard the plane were stude...More >>
    CLEVELAND (AP) - Members of a flying club held a candlelight vigil to remember four Ohio college students killed a week ago when a small plane crashed just after taking off near Cleveland. Friends and family members were among the 80 people who gathered Sunday night near the crash site in Willoughby Hills. Federal officials say the pilot of the plane reported he was having trouble climbing just after takeoff and was trying to return to the airport. All four people aboard the plane were stude...More >>
  • Ohio lawmaker seeks video in Wal-Mart shooting

    Ohio lawmaker seeks video in Wal-Mart shooting

    Monday, September 1 2014 11:10 AM EDT2014-09-01 15:10:31 GMT
    CINCINNATI (AP) - The president of Ohio's legislative black caucus is urging the state attorney general to release surveillance video of the fatal police shooting of a young black man in a suburban Dayton Wal-Mart store. Democratic state Rep. Alicia Reece of Cincinnati says on her web site that she has written to Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine expressing deep concern that information isn't being released in a way that inspires confidence, especially in the African-American community....More >>
    CINCINNATI (AP) - The president of Ohio's legislative black caucus is urging the state attorney general to release surveillance video of the fatal police shooting of a young black man in a suburban Dayton Wal-Mart store. Democratic state Rep. Alicia Reece of Cincinnati says on her web site that she has written to Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine expressing deep concern that information isn't being released in a way that inspires confidence, especially in the African-American community....More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms