Olfactory system of highly trained dogs detects prostate cancer in urine samples

Gianluigi Taverna, Lorenzo Tidu, Fabio Grizzi, Valter Torri, Alberto Mandressi, Paolo Sardella, Giuseppe La Torre, Giampiero Cocciolone, Mauro Seveso, Guido Giusti, Rodolfo Hurle, Armando Santoro, Pierpaolo Graziotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose We established diagnostic accuracy in terms of the sensitivity and specificity with which a rigorously trained canine olfactory system could recognize specific volatile organic compounds of prostate cancer in urine samples. Materials and Methods Two 3-year-old female German Shepherd Explosion Detection Dogs were trained to identify prostate cancer specific volatile organic compounds in urine samples. They were tested on 362 patients with prostate cancer (range low risk to metastatic) and on 540 healthy controls with no nonneoplastic disease or nonprostatic tumor. This cross-sectional design for diagnostic accuracy was performed at a single Italian teaching hospital and at the Italian Ministry of Defense Military Veterinary Center. Results For dog 1 sensitivity was 100% (95% CI 99.0-100.0) and specificity was 98.7% (95% CI 97.3-99.5). For dog 2 sensitivity was 98.6% (95% CI 96.8-99.6) and specificity was 97.6% (95% CI 95.9-98.7). When considering only men older than 45 years in the control group, dog 1 achieved 100% sensitivity and 98% specificity (95% CI 96-99.2), and dog 2 achieved 98.6% sensitivity (95% CI 96.8-99.6) and 96.4% specificity (95% CI 93.9-98.1). Analysis of false-positive cases revealed no consistent pattern in participant demographics or tumor characteristics. Conclusions A trained canine olfactory system can detect prostate cancer specific volatile organic compounds in urine samples with high estimated sensitivity and specificity. Further studies are needed to investigate the potential predictive value of this procedure to identify prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1382-1387
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2015


  • diagnosis
  • dogs
  • olfactory perception
  • prostatic neoplasms
  • volatile organic compounds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology
  • Medicine(all)


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