Technology: Sniffing Out Diseases

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer for me in the world. Even though it is common, there is still such a high rate of false positives, or people who are wrongly diagnosed with prostate cancer, from standard blood tests. Earlier this year, a study involving trained detection dogs was conducted. By sniffing a urine sample, these dogs are able to identify prostate cancer with a whopping 98% accuracy!  This method has not been added as an official means to detecting cancer, but it is greatly contributing to research regarding dogs being able to “sniff out” diseases. Even though this is a huge technological advance for cancer detection research, there are some issues related to the practicality of having dogs detect prostate cancer. One issue is the consistency in dogs sniffing out certain chemicals to decipher whether or not a patient actually has prostate cancer. There is no real way to tell exactly what triggers a dog to confirm or deny that the patient has cancer. Another issue is the fact that the training process would be a very long and potentially difficult one to make sure these dogs can accurately detect a true positive or a true negative.

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