Dogs trained to sniff out prostate cancer

Jul 18, 2010
By staff
San Francisco, Calif. -- Researchers in Paris, France, have been able to train dogs to recognize the smell of prostate cancer in human urine samples, according to a new study shared at the latest scientific meeting of the American Urological Association.

Using urine samples from 33 patients with biopsy-confirmed prostate cancer, doctors trained dogs to detect the characteristic smell of prostate-cancer-derived volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Then the dogs were trained to recognize the difference between control urine and cancer-patient urine.

In a final test, dogs correctly classified 63 of 66 urine samples. Negative predictive value was 100 percent.

"What we need to do now is figure out what those VOCs are and whether we can develop a specific test to identify them," says the American Urological Association's Anthony Smith, MD. "Don't be surprised in a few years if we have to 'call in the dogs' to make a diagnosis."