Shepherding New Approaches to Cancer Detection

PetMD Editorial
Updated: May 05, 2014
Published: June 28, 2010
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The initial results of a study being conducted at Paris' Hospital Tenon in France may point to a new method for confirming prostate cancer. If confirmed with further studies, this new technique would be more reliable than the current blood test model for detecting prostate cancer in men. The method? Belgian Malinois shepherd dogs and their ability to detect the presence of cancer cells in urine.

LiveScience reported this week that research doctors at the Hospital Tenon trained the dogs to distinguish between the urine of men that were confirmed prostate cancer carriers, and those that were not. The trained dogs were able to confirm 63 out of the 66 samples given to them to smell, a significantly higher positive rate than the prostate specific antigen (PSA) protein blood test that is currently used to detect this malignant form of cancer.

It is believed that the dogs are able to detect the odor of a specific molecule that is related to the cancer, and doctors hope this will assist them in determining the exact molecule so that diagnostic testing and treatment can be further refined.

While the initial findings are promising, the results will need to be reproduced in other settings using more of a blind experiment approach so that the results cannot be skewed by subconscious cues from the researchers to the test dogs.

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