Dogs can be trained to correctly identify certain prostate cancer cell-derived volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in urine, according to new data from researchers in Paris. These promising new data were presented on June 1, 2010 during the 105th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA). The session was moderated by AUA Public Media Committee Chair Anthony Y. Smith, MD.
In recent years, new findings have emerged to indicate that dogs, due to their strong scenting ability, are capable of detecting cancer. Past studies have focused on breast, lung and bladder cancers. This new study addresses the ability of canines to accurately detect the presence of prostate cancer.
Using urine samples from 33 patients with biopsy-confirmed prostate cancer, researchers trained dogs (using the clicker-training method) to recognize the characteristic olfactory signatures of prostate cancer-derived VOCs. The dogs were then trained to discern cancer urine from control urine and, finally, were asked to signal cancer urine from among five individual samples (only one was from a patient with confirmed cancer). Sensitivity and specificity were 100 percent and 91 percent respectively; of the 66 total urine samples (33 in each group), the dogs correctly classified 63 samples. The negative predictive value was 100 percent.
“These data suggest that prostate cancer tumors may excrete certain VOCs that turn up in a patient’s urine and that this ‘scent’ may be specific to prostate cancer,” said Dr. Smith. “What we need to do now is figure out what those VOCs are and whether or not we can develop a specific test to identify them. But, don’t be surprised in a few years if we have to ‘call in the dogs’ to make a diagnosis-if it holds up, the dogs are better than PSA!”
Source: American Urological Association