Dogs have a 98 per cent reliability rate in sniffing out prostate cancer, according to newly-published research.

The Italian study backs up tests carried out by British charity Medical Detection Dogs.

Co-founder of the Buckinghamshire-based charity Dr Claire Guest says its own research found a 93 per cent reliability rate when detecting bladder and prostate cancer, describing the new findings as "spectacular".

The latest research, by the Department of Urology at the Humanitas Clinical and Research Centre in Milan, involved two German shepherds sniffing the urine of 900 men - 360 with prostate cancer and 540 without.

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Scientists found that dog one got it right in 98.7 per cent of cases, while for dog two this was 97.6 per cent.

They said the dogs are able to detect prostate cancer's specific volatile organic compounds in the urine but said an important question remains of how a dog would find it in daily practice.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with more than 40,000 new cases diagnosed every year.

Dr 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."

She said there is now a "reluctance to embrace this tested, time-old technology" but dogs can pick up a scent in a dilution of one to a thousand parts.

There is no single test for prostate cancer but the most commonly used are blood tests, a physical examination or a biopsy.

The research is published in the Journal Of Urology.

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- AAP