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San Francisco, CA, June 1, 2010–Dogs can be trained to correctly identify certain prostate cancer cell-derived volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in urine, according to new data from researchers in Paris. These promising new data will be presented on June 1, 2010 during the 105th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA). A special press conference will be held at 10 a.m. PDT in the AUA Press Suite, located at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The session will be moderated by AUA Public Media Committee Chair Anthony Y. Smith, MD. 

In recent years, new findings have emerged to indicate that dogs, due to their strong scenting ability, are capable of detecting cancer. Past studies have focused on breast, lung and bladder cancers. This new study addresses the ability of canines to accurately detect the presence of prostate cancer.

Using urine samples from 33 patients with biopsy-confirmed prostate cancer, researchers trained dogs (using the clicker-training method) to recognize the characteristic olfactory signatures of prostate cancer-derived VOCs. The dogs were then trained to discern cancer urine from control urine and, finally, were asked to signal cancer urine from among five individual samples (only one was from a patient with confirmed cancer). Sensitivity and specificity were 100 percent and 91 percent respectively; of the 66 total urine samples (33 in each group), the dogs correctly classified 63 samples. The negative predictive value was 100 percent.

“These data suggest that prostate cancer tumors may excrete certain VOCs that turn up in a patient’s urine and that this ‘scent’ may be specific to prostate cancer,” said Dr. Smith. “What we need to do now is figure out what those VOCs are and whether or not we can develop a specific test to identify them. But, don’t be surprised in a few years if we have to ‘call in the dogs’ to make a diagnosis—if it holds up, the dogs are better than PSA!”

NOTE TO REPORTERS: Experts are available to discuss this study outside normal briefing times. To arrange an interview with an expert, please contact the AUA Communications Office at the number above or e-mail 

About the American Urological Association: Founded in 1902 and headquartered near Baltimore, Maryland, the American Urological Association is the pre-eminent professional organization for urologists, with more than 16,000 members throughout the world. An educational nonprofit organization, the AUA pursues its mission of fostering the highest standards of urologic care by carrying out a wide variety of programs for members and their patients.

Wendy Isett, AUA