Dogs’ incredible sense of smell is indisputable. These tail-waggers are not only adorable pets, they have also been used for centuries for hunting because their noses are much better at finding prey or food than ours. Today, specially-trained dogs help us find everything from bombs to illegal drugs, and even diseases such as diabetes and certain cancers, by simply using their sniffers!
Dogs’ abilities to sniff out cancers has been reported over the years. There was case involving a Border Collie/Doberman Pinscher mix that relentlessly sniffed and nipped at a single mole on her owner’s leg which turned out to be malignant. Another case was that of Nancy Best and her dog Mia which kept on sniffing and pouncing on her right breast. When Nancy examined the spot, she noticed a lump. Her doctor recommended a biopsy which came back positive of Stage II breast cancer.
There are no explanation on how these two canines were able to detect malignancies and warn their humans about them except for the notion that certain cancers emit tumor-specific chemical odors that can be picked up by the super-sensitive noses of dogs. These chemicals are referred to as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which can be emitted through the skin or found in the breath of patients.
In a recent study conducted by the Humanitas Clinical and Research Center in Italy, dogs were also found to be able to accurately detect prostate cancer by sniffing VOCs in urine. According to the results of the research, two explosive-detection sniffer dogs were able to accurately identify which urine samples have prostate cancer after extensive training.
The researchers tested the dogs on urine samples from 332 men with prostate cancer and 540 male and female controls without the condition. One of the dogs correctly identified all the samples from men with prostate cancer while the other identified 98.6% of them. The dogs incorrectly identified between one and four percent of the control samples as being from men with prostate cancer (false positives). The false positive results in this test are significantly lower than that of prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood tests, the standard screening method used for prostate cancer detection.
Experts say that the results of the dog sniffing test are particularly encouraging because it can provide an alternative and more accurate method of detecting the disease as PSA testings are very unreliable. Three out of four PSA tests return false positive results which lead to unnecessary and painful operations, not to mention undue stress to men who actually don’t have the disease.
Further testing are being carried out to confirm the results of the dog sniffing test and investigate how well it would perform in a real-world sample of men undergoing investigation for possible prostate cancer. Early detection of prostate cancer greatly increases the chances for successful treatment of this silent killer.
If your pet pooch starts to act strangely after sniffing your crotch, don’t worry much. Dogs must be trained first to be able to identify the scent released by prostate cancer. Your four-legged friend could only be telling you that you smell ripe down there and badly need a shower and some ToppCock.