Elsevierlogo Here is a novel means to identify prostate cancer within the early stages itself. A groundbreaking study asserts that trained dogs sniffing human urine samples can effectively identify prostate cancer (PCa). The study findings appear extremely beneficial in the health world.

While conducting the study, a Belgian Malinois shepherd was trained by the clicker training method known as operant conditioning to scent and recognize urine of people with PCa. The urine samples were frozen for preservation and heated to keep the same temperature all through the tests. On completion of a learning phase and a training period of 24 months, the dog was supposedly able to distinguish between PCa and control urine.

The urine samples were gathered from 66 patients that had been referred to an urologist for increased prostate-specific antigen or abnormal digital rectal examination. While all the patients had previously undergone prostate biopsy, two groups were considered as 33 patients with cancer and 33 controls with negative biopsies. After completing all the runs, the dog was allegedly able to designate the cancer samples in 30 of 33 cases.

Among the three cases wrongly classified as cancer, one of the patients was re-biopsied and a PCa was diagnosed. Both the sensitivity as well as the specificity apparently was 91 percent. Jean-Nicolas Cornu and colleagues concluded that trained dogs can accurately detect PCa by smelling urine.

The study is published in the February 2011 issue of European Urology.