Prostate Cancer Clinical Trial

Prostate Cancer Clinical Trial

AIM: To develop a highly accurate urine test using canines for the non-invasive detection of prostate cancer therefore offering an alternative to current PSA or digital testing in New Zealand.

BACKGROUND: In New Zealand, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Based on the statistics from the Ministry of Health 2010 – 2012, there are around 3,129 registrations each year and approximately 607 deaths each year.

Men who develop prostate cancer are mostly over the age of 65. It rarely occurs in men younger than 55. About one in 13 men will develop prostate cancer before the age of 75. In very elderly men, prostate cancer often grows very slowly and may cause no symptoms.

Some men are more at risk of getting prostate cancer than others, but the most important risk factor is ageing. Men with a family history of prostate cancer have a higher risk; that is, if their father, an uncle or a brother has had prostate cancer.

Doctors do not know what causes prostate cancer. They do know, however, that the growth of cancer cells in the prostate is stimulated by male hormones, especially testosterone. Most prostate cancer growth is influenced by testosterone.
The speed at which prostate cancer grows varies from man to man. In some men the cancer grows very slowly; in other men, it grows more rapidly.

A cancer is often very hard to find when it is located only within the prostate. This is because it may not cause symptoms and may be too small for a doctor to feel during a routine rectal exam. A man with slow-growing prostate cancer may live for many years and die of other causes, without ever having symptoms of prostate cancer. If the cancer grows too much, however, the prostate usually squeezes the urethra, which it surrounds. Symptoms may then start, such as difficulty in passing urine. As the same symptoms can be caused by other problems, difficulty in passing urine does not always mean that prostate cancer is present.


Early detection of prostate cancer is important as this cancer is most treatable when detected while contained within the prostate gland before it spreads to other parts of the body.

The New Zealand Ministry of Health Prostate Cancer Management and Referral Guidance indicates the procedures for men looking to be tested for prostate cancer.

Regular prostate checks are important for men who:

  • Are over the age of 40 if there is a family history of prostate cancer; 
  • Are older than 50, but younger than 70.

There are two simple tests for prostate cancer and it is recommended that both are done each year. 

  1. The PSA blood test is a simple test than can be done in conjunction with other blood tests (e.g. cholesterol) as part of a routine health check-up.
  2. The Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) is a physical examination where the doctor checks the size, shape and hardness of the prostate gland by inserting a gloved finger in to the rectum.

Men having any problems such as pain, fever, swelling of the prostate and, blood and pus in the urine, or problems passing urine should consult their doctor without delay.


K9 Medical Detection NZ has strict protocols and robust methodologies for all medical detection trials. Research trials are led by Professor Sarah Young and Doctor Katrin Campbell in conjunction with K9MD Director Pauline Blomfield and The Prostate Cancer Foundation New Zealand. K9 Medical Detection have clinical facilities in Dunedin including two laboratories for the safe handling and storing of all medical samples.

Mid 2020 (after the COVID-19 lockdown) K9MD Golden Retriever Magic commenced training to detect prostate cancer. K9MD German shepherd Freida also recommenced her training for prostate cancer detection.

It is hoped that the findings from this research programme will assist in the development of a new prostate cancer programme for New Zealand.