Prostate Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)
Prostate cancer is a gradually and common type of cancer that affects the
prostate gland. Though the early symptoms are not bothersome, the early detection of the disease is crucial
for successful treatment or cure. However, some of the symptoms like pain in the pelvic area, back pain and
frequent urination can be considered as some of the commonly experienced symptoms by individuals who are
victim of the cancer. When a patient with these symptoms visits the doctor, he is prescribed tests that often
include urinalysis, DRE and PSA tests. The results of all these tests are studied in detail to detect the
presence or suspicion of cancerous cells in the prostate gland.
What Is DRE Test?
DRE test refers to Digital Rectal Examination which is conducted to examine the pelvic area and
the prostate gland. It is conducted to find out any kind of growth or enlargement in the prostate gland. As a
part of the examination process, the doctor inserts his gloved finger into the rectum to examine the quality
of prostate gland and also the bladder. Any kind of lump or growth, if found, leads to further specific
DRE tests reveal the condition of internal organs. When the patient complains of any kind of
pain in the lower pelvic area this test possibly helps the doctor in analysing the causes for such pain.
Since not all pains may be the reason for prostate cancer, a detailed study is required to rule out other
medical conditions that can cause similar symptoms.
Presence of (internal) haemorrhoids also cannot be easily found in such tests as they are much
softer. Similarly, this test alone cannot provide any verdict for presence of prostate cancer.
Understandably, the doctor conducts a series of other tests also in conjunction with DRE test, PSA and
The patient is asked to remove the clothes below the waist line. A separate sterilised gown is
provided by the lab technician. The patient is asked to lay in a posture that is comfortable for the doctor
to examine. The patient is asked to lie on his left side with both the knees bent towards his chest. Another
simple posture is to stand and bend from the waist line. The doctor, after protecting his hands with
sterilised gloves, then inserts his hands into the rectum and feels for any kind of lumps or growth. This may
cause some uneasiness to the patient but the pain is usually bearable.
DRE Test Risks Involved
After conduction of DRE test there might be a negligible amount of bleeding from rectum. This
could be due to presence of anal fissures or haemorrhoids. Some sensitive patients may also feel light headed
or giddy. This is due to psychological fear when doctor is about to insert his finger inside the rectum. To
avoid this, patient is recommended to take this test while lying down on examination table.
If test results are normal, possibly no growths or organ enlargements are detected. If results
indicate presence of some abnormality, probabilities of enlargement of prostate, presence of prostate tumour,
haemorrhoids, abscesses, polyps, and fissures in the lower rectum cannot be ruled out. To confirm the
prostate cancer diagnosis, biopsy will be performed.