A German Shepherd / HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images

40,000 new cases of prostate cancer are reported every year

New research has supported the idea that dogs could one day be used to sniff out cancer, after a study found that trained German Shepherds were able to detect chemicals linked to prostate cancer from urine samples with incredibly high accuracy.

A study carried out by the Department of Urology at the Humanitas Clinical and Research Centre in Milan had two German Shepherds sniff the urine of 900 men, 360 of whom had prostate cancer and 540 who didn't.

One dog was successful at identifying prostate cancer in 98.7 per cent of cases, while the other dog achieved 97.6 per cent accuracy.

It is the latest research in a series of studies stretching back decades, and boosts the hope that canines could help doctors identify various human cancers and diseases.

40,000 new cases of prostate cancer are reported every year, making it the most common type of the disease among British men.


Prostate cancer is currently detected by a blood test known as the PSA, as well as by a physical examination and by biopsy.

Buckingham-based charity Medical Detection Dogs' co-founder Claire Guest said the results from the new study were "spectacular".

"They offer us further proof that dogs have the ability to detect human cancer. It is particularly exciting that we have such a high success rate in the detection of prostate cancer, for which the existing tests are woefully inadequate," Dr Guest said.

"Over the years, millions of pounds of NHS funding has been poured into the traditional test methods, yet there has been little improvement in their reliability."

In March 2015 it was found that a dog, which was also part German Shepherd, was able to sniff out thyroid cancer from urine samples with an accuracy rate of 88 per cent.