DOGS DETECT PROSTATE CANCER?!
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men (after skin cancer). About 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Prostate cancer occurs mainly in older men. About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older.
But what is prostate? Prostate is a gland found only in males and its size changes with age. The main function of the prostate is to secrete a slightly alkaline fluid that protects sperm cells in semen.
Almost all prostate cancers rise from gland cells, thus the medical term for this type of cancer is adenocarcinoma.
Early stage cancer usually has no symptoms, but sometimes, symptoms similar to benign prostatic hyperplasia such as: frequent urination, nocturia (increased urination at night), hematuria (blood in the urine), dysuria (painful urination), weak or interrupted urinary stream are observed.
Although the cause of prostatic cancer is unknown, there are several factors that increase the possibility of developing this condition:
- Ethnic group
- Family history
There are several tests used to diagnose prostate cancer:
- Digital rectal examination, a simple test to screen for prostate cancer.
- Prostate specific antigen blood test (PSA). High levels of this protein indicate prostate cancer, but its levels rise even in benign prostatic hyperplasia.
- Prostate ultrasound and biopsy.
Nowadays the remarkable sense of smell of dogs has been used to detect thyroid cancer and lately even prostate cancer. Two German shepherds have been trained to detect prostate cancer and they were correct in 95% of cases. Studies have shown that dogs can sniff out chemicals in the urine of men with cancer. For their studies, scientists used two female shepherd dogs and trained them to identify specific chemicals in the urine of men with prostate cancers. After training the dogs, they tested them on patients with prostate cancers and in patients with no prostate pathologies. The results were impressive. It is unknown which cancerous chemical the dogs are detecting.
The study involved only men previously diagnosed with prostate cancer, so other studies are needed to find out if they can pick up cases that have not been diagnosed yet.