In a new study out of Italy, research has found dogs can detect prostate cancer with an astounding 98 percent accuracy rate. That is more accurate than some of the most advanced lab procedures.


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Dog trainer Dina Zaphiris spoke to Jon Scott on Happening Now and said she is not surprised by this study.

"Dogs have been showing throughout time with search and rescue, bomb detection, explosives detection and now with cancer [and] the results have been tremendous," she said.

Though she said there hasn't been enough research produced, Zaphiris believes all the research that is out there is tremendously promising.

Dr. Marty Makary, who is also a professor of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, says the idea that there is a smell associated with cancer could lead to further ideas for how to attack and eliminate cancer.

"Maybe it's a signal to those of us in cancer research that we need to start thinking about cancer differently," Makary said.

Makary also says current tests that are being used to screen for cancer are not that great and some are being pulled back.

"We need to think creatively and what we're learning from dogs, who have five times the number of sensory cells in their nose than humans, may give us a signal that we should start looking at these airborne particles in urine specimens or breathalyzer tests."

Watch the clip above to learn more about how dogs are helping doctors rethink the way cancer is detected in general. 


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Read more from Reuters Health:

Highly-trained dogs are able to detect prostate cancer in urine with 98 percent accuracy, according to a study presented May 18 at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association in Orlando.

“This study gives us a standardized method of diagnosis that is reproducible, low cost and non-invasive,” said lead author Dr. Gianluigi Taverna, chief of the prostatic diseases unit at the Humanitas Research Hospital in Milan, Italy.

“Using dogs to recognize prostate cancer might help reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies and better pinpoint patients at high risk for the disease,” he told Reuters Health in an email.

Researchers in Italy enrolled 902 participants and divided them into two main groups: 362 men with prostate cancer, ranging from very-low risk tumors to metastatic disease, and a control group made up of 540 men and women in generally good health or affected by other types of cancer or non-tumor related diseases. All participants provided urine samples.

Two 3-year old, female German Shepherds named Zoe and Liu were trained for about five months at the Italian Ministry of Defense’s Military Veterinary Center in Grosseto using the positive reinforcement “clicker method” and “imprinting,” during which the dogs learn to distinguish certain distinctive scents.

Both Zoe and Liu had previously worked as explosive-detection dogs.