When it comes to detecting prostate cancer, these canines win by a nose.

A pair of three-year-old German shepherds named Zoe and Liu were more than 90% accurate in identifying cases of the disease, successfully outperforming the best lab machines in the world.

Currently, the PSA test that most hospitals use is only accurate 25% of the time– meaning that three of every four men diagnosed with prostate cancer don’t actually have the disease.

Italian scientists thought dogs would return fewer false-positive results, so they trained the two shepherds to sniff out very specific compounds that only turn up in urine samples from prostate cancer patients. Their hypothesis was right–they turned out far fewer false positives.kangaroo-with-dogs-on-farm-Familyphoto-FelicityStewart

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The results, which bolstered earlier tests by the UK group, Medical Detection Dogs (MDD), were published in the Journal of Urology.

“If our detection dogs were a machine, there would be huge demand for them,” Claire Guest, chief executive at MDD told WebMD.

As far back as 2006, Good News Network has featured stories about how dogs –and cats–were believed to have “smelled” cancer. A dog’s sense of smell is thousands of times more precise than humans, allowing them to detect scents diluted to just one in a thousand parts of a solution. Zoe and Liu were originally trained to sniff out explosives for the Italian military. The new study suggests they and other dogs could have valuable peacetime jobs as well.

(READ more at WebMD) – Photo by It’sGreg, CC license

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