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Prostate
Photograph by Emma Jeffery
Prostate Cancer Study

We are now carrying out a prostate cancer study. There are massively powerful reasons for such work. Prostate cancer is a major killer and the current test, the prostate specific antigen test [PSA], is unreliable.

If dogs can sniff prostate cancer from a urine sample the chances are high that from the results of the dogs’ sniffing research, a test can be developed that is far superior to the PSA (prostate specific antigen) test. The results would indicate the existence of a potential odour signature of prostate cancer that may correspond to one or, more likely, multiple volatile’s.

A recent study has been completed by Cornu et al, "Olfactory Detection of prostate cancer by Dogs Sniffing Urine: A Step Forward in Early Diagnosis". This study which looked at only one dog has shown very promising results and concludes that this work opens the door of volatile detection for prostate cancer diagnosis. The results provide a new insight in the field, further work and research would be of huge value and has the potential to answer questions that could lead to a significant improvement in the screening and early diagnosis of prostate cancer.

The charity is working in conjunction with Professor Karol Sikora, mass spectrometry scientists and a medical statistician in the detection of prostate cancer from human breath and urine. There are massively powerful reasons for such a study. Prostate cancer is a major killer and the current test, the prostate specific antigen test [PSA], is so unreliable that many GP’s are reluctant to use it. If dogs can sniff prostate cancer from a urine sample the chances are high that from the results of the dogs’ sniffing research, a test can be developed that is far superior to the PSA test. The results would indicate the existence of a potential odour signature of prostate cancer that may correspond to one or, more likely, multiple Volatiles. These molecules should then be assessed by specific gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis.

We understand already from publication that dogs can smell prostate from urine and are investigating identifiying the different markers between psa and cancer.

A lot more research needs to be done from a practical point of view to clearly determine a Cancer Detection Dogs accuracy level. We are are running intense trials using the RasCargo™ system which involves placing samples on a rack and observing the number of dogs that indicate.

So how can our Cancer Detection Dogs help in the future?

PSA tests are unreliable. The PSA's high false positive rate could be complimented by a second line cancer screening service that demonstrated a low false positive rate and higher accuracy.

Second line screening of this nature is already in place in Tanzania where rats are used for the second-line screening of human TB. APOPO offers second-line screening to partner hospitals which has increased new case detection rates of TB by over 30%.

Prostate Cancer key facts

  • 1 in 3 men are missed through current level of tests

  • Prostate cancer is now the most common cancer in men in the UK

  • Every day more than 112 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK

  • Prostate cancer is the 2nd most common cause of cancer death in the UK

  • Men are dying uneccessarily