Do dogs hold the key to early prostate cancer detection?

French researchers say "oui."

In a recent study a dog trained to identify urine from patients with confirmed prostate cancer was presented with multiple samples and was able to distinguish between the patients with cancer and healthy men.

In early tests, the dog produced fewer false positives than the commonly used PSA test. Researchers say finding better tests is essential because the high rate of false positives in prostate cancer leads to unnecessary treatment.

The study, reported on WebMD, is just the latest in ongoing tests that indicate dogs have shown an ability to detect other cancers.

Researchers say the results don't mean that dogs will be "running around" hospitals sniffing patients (although that might provide employment for shelter dogs) but rather they might provide the basis for the development of an "electronic nose."

(Photo courtesy D. Sharon Pruitt)