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Digital Rectal Examination (DRE)

The Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) is a common way of helping to diagnose a prostate problem. Your doctor or nurse feels the prostate gland through the wall of the back passage (rectum).

The DRE may be carried out by your GP and will be repeated by the hospital specialist if your GP thinks you should see one. If you are having a PSA test as well, the DRE should be done after the PSA test if possible. This is because having a DRE straight before a PSA test might raise your PSA level.

You will lie on your side, on an examination table, with your knees brought up towards your chest. If you find it easier, you can stand and lean over the back of a chair or across the examination table instead.

The doctor or nurse will slide their finger gently into your back passage. They will wear gloves and put some gel onto their finger to make it more comfortable. Some men understandably find it embarrassing but it is over quickly and shouldn't be painful.

They will feel the back surface of the prostate gland for any hard or irregular areas and to estimate its size.

If your prostate gland is larger than expected, this could be a sign of an enlarged prostate. A prostate gland with hard bumpy areas may suggest prostate cancer.

If your DRE result shows anything unusual, you will be referred to a hospital specialist. The DRE is not a completely accurate test. A man with prostate cancer may have a DRE that feels normal.

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Published: 1-May-13^ back to top