The digital rectal examination or DRE

You Want to Do What!?

Many men have a problem with even the idea of a digital rectal examination or DRE. All we can say about this is that a DRE is nothing compared to what a woman goes through in having an annual pelvic exam.


Just click here to watch a brief video presentation
about what to expect from a prostate exam.

The prostate gland is just in front of the rectum, and because most cancers seem to begin in the back part of the prostate gland, which can be felt during a rectal exam, during a DRE the doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum to feel for any bumps or hard areas on your prostate that might be a cancer. The exam causes no pain and only takes a few seconds.

Why Do a DRE at All?

Although a DRE is less effective than a PSA blood test in assessment of risk for prostate cancer, it can sometimes find cancers in men with normal PSA levels. For this reason, almost every set of available guidelines recommend that any program designed to ensure early detection of prostate cancer should involve both a DRE and a PSA test.

Try and get beyond whatever problems you may have with the DRE itself, and see it for what it is: a clinical method to help make sure you don’t die of a cancer you didn’t know you had!

Content of this page last reviewed and updated November 26, 2008.
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