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The Most Accurate Prostate Cancer Test May Be Sniffing Your Crotch Right Now

By 05.20.14

It’s been shown, increasingly, that dogs are really, really good at finding cancer. As in, they’re more accurate than the tests people pay thousands of dollars for. And the evidence is mounting that dogs can sniff out pretty much any kind of cancer with a new study showing they have a shocking rate of accuracy for prostate cancer.

The research team created a method of detecting prostate cancer that was highly accurate, non-invasive, and safe for both humans and dogs. It was a smashing success, according to Discover:

The two dogs sniffed urine samples, and identified signs of prostate cancer with a combined 98 percent accuracy. In a few cases, the dogs identified cancer when it wasn’t there — called a false positive — accounting for the remaining 2 percent of cases. That success rate represents a vast improvement over the standard Prostate-Specific Antigen test, which has a false positive rate as high as 80 percent.

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Yes, the butt-licking animal you caught digging through the bathroom trash is a better cancer detector than a test that costs thousands. This is because dogs have a ridiculously refined sense of smell; your average dog has 220 million smell receptors, compared to 5 million in the human nose. That makes them very good at detecting volatile organic compounds that cancer cells dump into the urine.

This just adds to the talent of dogs in finding cancer; for example, a study found that dogs were a reliable and accurate test for ovarian cancer… a type of cancer we don’t currently have a test for. Mostly now it’s becoming a matter of figuring out how to train the dogs and put what is potentially a walking ball of allergens and skittishness in a doctor’s office effectively and safely. On the other hand, “Take your pick, watering eyes or prostate cancer” seems like a choice that will be easy for most people.


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