Dogs have always been named man's best friend and new research shows they could be really really deserving of the title.
Researchers in Italy have discovered that dogs may be able to sniff out prostate cancer with uncanny accuracy.
Considering this, the growing evidence that our canine friends can smell the byproducts of the cancer - and therefore help detection - is certainly good news.
Gianluigi Taverna of Humanitas Research Hospital in Milan and colleagues took urine samples from 320 men with prostate cancer, and 357 without it.
The men with cancer had all different stages of the disease, from very low-risk, slow-growing tumors, to cancer that had spread.
According to the report presented to the American Urological Association, two specially trained dogs were able to detect organic chemicals released into urine by prostate cancers.
One of the dogs detected every single prostate cancer case, and only hit false positives — when it identified cancer when it wasn’t there — in 2 percent of cases. The other dog was almost as accurate.
The pair had an impressive combined accuracy rate of 98 percent.
Speaking to NBC News, Dr. Brian Stork, a urologist at West Shore Urology in Muskegon, Michigan, who also was not involved in the study, said: “These data show analysis of volatile organic compounds in urine is a promising approach to cancer detection.
"The possibility of using dogs identifying cancer is something most would never have considered possible a decade or two ago. It’s an interesting concept that ‘man’s best friend’ could help save your life."
According to NBC News, urologist Dr. Stacy Loeb of New York University pointed out that it is too soon to say the dogs could be put to work screening men for prostate cancer.
The dogs could smell compounds associated with prostate cancer and Loeb noted: “What [the researchers] don’t say is how good these compounds are for predicting prostate cancer and, more important, for predicting aggressive prostate cancer.
“We’re very good at diagnosing prostate cancer, what we really need are diagnostics that are better at helping us identify life-threatening prostate cancer,” she said.