Digital Rectal Examination of the Prostate
A DRE is a simple procedure for early detection and diagnosis of prostate cancer or abnormalities of the gland that indicate benign prostatic hypertrophy or prostatitis. Many doctors perform a DRE as part of a routine physical examination and not just when a man is experiencing prostate symptoms or when it is a follow-up for a PSA test.
For most men, undergoing a DRE involves a little discomfort and perhaps some embarrassment. If the prostate is inflamed or irritated, however, or if the doctor detects a lump in the prostate, the examination can be painful. In either case, the whole procedure is over in just a few seconds.
For the DRE procedure you will be asked to remove any clothing below the waist, and you will likely be given a hospital gown to wear. You will then be asked to either bend over at the waist with your hands on a table or to lie on your left side with your knees drawn up toward your chest. Both of these positions make the DRE easier for the doctor and less uncomfortable for you. Your doctor will then insert a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum and press firmly on your prostate to feel for any abnormalities.