A new international research programme, carried out by Milton Keynes charity Medical Detection Dogs, has found that dogs are able to detect the most aggressive forms of prostate cancer - an important discovery because a blood test that checks for the PSA protein (made only by the prostate gland) isn’t always accurate.
The study, backed by the Prostate Cancer Foundation and published in the journal Plos One, revealed that dogs identified positive samples correctly 71 per cent of the time when detecting the most lethal tumours, the BBC reports.
A Labrador called Florin and a vizsla called Midas were used in the research, sniffing out the odour of cancer in urine samples, with charity founder Clare Guest saying that the dogs have huge potential.
“[They] have been able to identify these very aggressive cancers. This could lead to lifesaving work in the future that would enable us to understand the difference between other diseases of the prostate and those that will go on to kill men,” she added.
Work is also underway to develop a robotic nose, a device that mimics dogs’ sniffing ability, with the idea that this will eventually evolve into a smartphone app.
This isn’t the first time dogs have been found to be good at detecting cancer, however. Back in 2019, four beagles helped researchers pick out blood samples from people with cancer using their highly evolved sense of smell - with nearly 97 per cent accuracy! Apparently, dogs have smell receptors 10,000 times more accurate than humans!
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