What is a digital rectal exam?
A digital rectal exam (DRE) is an in-office screening in which a provider checks the size and shape of the male prostate gland. During this examination, the provider will also be feeling the prostate to determine if there are any irregularities such as lumps or hard areas. A digital rectal exam is one of several tools used to screen for prostate issues such as cancer.
Digital rectal exams are used as a screening tool for possible prostate cancer, but may also be prescribed if the patient has rectal bleeding, an unexplained rectal discharge, blood in their stool, or a lump in their rectum.
How is a digital rectal exam performed?
This test can be performed during a regular office visit and does not require any preparation by the patient. The male patient simply lies on a examination table while the provider inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into their rectum. The patient will feel pressure in the rectum during the procedure, but they should not experience any pain or notable discomfort. The patient will not be under anesthesia during the DRE, so they are able to leave the office as soon as their visit is complete.
The examination is brief, and will alert the provider to any issues that may need further investigation. Following the DRE, the doctor may request that the patient have a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test if one isn’t already on file.
When should I have a DRE?
It is recommended that men start having digital rectal screening when they turn 50. However, if the patient has a history of prostate cancer in their immediate family, or they are African American, this exam is recommended once they enter their 40s.
Contact Urology Austin if you are interested in scheduling a digital rectal exam, or a consultation with one of our providers.