A digital rectal exam (DRE) is the manual examination of the prostate and rectal lining to feel for abnormalities, such as lumps or hard areas. A DRE can be conducted both on men and women for a variety of conditions, including colon cancer or problems in the urinary tract. However, urologists primarily perform DREs to screen men for an enlarged prostate.
No preparation is needed for a DRE. However, a patient should inform the physician if he or she has hemorrhoids or other rectal condition.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The physician instructs the patient to remove his or her clothing from the waist down. The patient is instructed to either lie on his or her side on the exam table or lean over the table, with his or her elbows on the table. The physician inserts a gloved, lubricated finger in the patient’s rectum to feel for abnormalities in the prostate and in the rectum.
Following the exam, if the physician suspects prostate cancer, he or she will order a biopsy for a definitive diagnosis.
The patient may experience minor rectal bleeding if he or she has hemorrhoids.