NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - May 29, 2014) - Once again, man's best friend proves a reliable companion. Research presented at the 2014 American Urological Association annual meeting showed that highly trained cancer detection dogs were able to identify prostate cancer in urine samples with 98 percent accuracy. By isolating the prostate cancer biomarkers that dogs can sniff out, researchers hope to develop more cost-effective, non-invasive prostate cancer screeners.
Earlier this month a similar study demonstrated success with electronic nose prostate cancer detection, a first step toward replicating the fine-tuned olfactory sense of dogs. While the eNose achieved results comparable to the standard prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, the dogs in the Italian study were even more accurate. According to David B. Samadi, MD, Chairman of Urology and Chief of Robotic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, these prostate cancer screening advancements are in line with the success of robotic prostate surgery.
"Studies like this help us fine tune the way technology and medicine come together," said Dr. Samadi. "Robotic surgery is a fine example of how technology can successfully amplify our medical expertise. Electronic prostate cancer screening, when paired with the expert analysis of urologic oncologists, has the potential to significantly improve our diagnostic process."
Italian researchers explored olfactory prostate cancer detection using two German Shepherds, originally trained as explosive dogs. The dogs were retrained in prostate cancer detection over a five-month period, learning to sit in front of a urine sample to signal those that their noses said contained prostate cancer-specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs). One dog identified the prostate cancer patient samples with 100 percent accuracy, the other with 98.6 percent accuracy.
"We need to increase early prostate cancer diagnosis and a good way to do that is to improve the first diagnostic step," said Dr. Samadi. "The PSA test has had its ups and downs; disagreement about its application caused many providers and patients to scale back, a practice that could jeopardize the early detection window that's so critical to successful treatment."
Researchers intend to further their canine research with additional dogs and wider range of patient populations. As they isolate the prostate cancer biomarkers found in the VOCs, they hope to translate that knowledge to devices similar to the eNose. In the future, prostate cancer diagnosis could come in the form of a completely non-invasive urine screener, followed by the assessment and counsel of a prostate cancer expert.
"Enhanced accuracy at step one will lead to more tempered use of prostate biopsies for prostate cancer confirmation and staging," Dr. Samadi said.
The study findings were published in Cancer Biomark, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22012770