Dogs used to sniff out prostate cancer

Indianapolis, IN (WRTV) — Researchers at IUPUI believe they’ve found a new medical breakthrough — using dogs to find prostate cancer in urine.

Over the past two years, Amanda Siegel and Mangilal Agarwal have used lab instruments to identify the molecules in prostate cancer and the smell it emits, using urine samples from the VA hospital.

“Once we find the smell, then we use the dogs to validate that the smell is there and then, we’ll build a sensor,” Siegel said.

But how do you sniff out cancer?

“After you’ve trained the dog before with treats outside, you then put the dog in a room with no people,” Siegel said. “So people can’t bias them and the dog just goes right to the right pail.”

If the dog keeps its nose in the pail for an extended period of time, that signals that they’ve found the urine specimen with prostate cancer.

If the dog’s findings match the sensor’s, they could have a medical breakthrough. The idea came from Italy, where of 900 samples presented, dogs were able to sniff out prostate cancer with 98 percent accuracy.

“If more people can get screened because of the non-invasive part of the sensor then we can catch prostate cancer early and can save the lives of men,” Agarwal said.

Many men take PSA tests that give false positive results, leading to unnecessary biopsies. If all goes well, the IUPUI researchers hope to produce and have prostate cancer testing strips that cost less than $1 in clinics nationwide.