Dogs detect cancer ‘98% of the time’

Medical Detection Dogs Daisy and Flint
Medical Detection Dogs Daisy and Flint

The director of a centre which trains dogs to detect cancer has described findings that the pets have a 98 per cent reliability rate as ‘spectacular’.

Almost 1,000 urine samples were tested in Italy and the findings of scientists back up the work of Medical Detection Dogs, in Great Horwood.

The research, published this month in the Journal of Urology, was the result of five months’ work using dogs trained to detect cancer volatiles.

In its own recent training trials, Medical Detection Dogs found a reliability rate of 93 per cent for detecting bladder and prostate cancer.

co-founder and director Dr Claire Guest said: “These results are 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 thinks millions of pounds have been wasted in trying to improve conventional test reliability.

“If our detection dogs were a machine, there would be huge demand for them,” she said. “Dogs can pick up a scent in a dilution of one to a thousand parts. Their superior smelling power is well known. So why the reluctance to embrace this tested, time-old technology?”

Last month, Speaker John Bercow called for cancer screening by dogs to be adopted and fully funded by the NHS.

Mr Bercow said: “It would be good if there were a culture change in attitudes. Some people can’t quite grip the idea that dogs can do just as much to help humans as human beings themselves.”