What Happens During A Digital Rectal Exam
Your health care provider will insert a gloved finger into the rectum and feel the prostate for hard, lumpy, or abnormal areas. The test takes only a few minutes to complete.
You may feel slight, momentary discomfort during the test. The procedure does not cause significant pain or any damage to the prostate.
Should You Choose To Be Screened For Prostate Cancer At All
Prostate cancer is a disease that many men die with rather than of that is, despite aggressive prostate cancer killing some men, many more men would peacefully co-exist with their mild prostate cancers if they were left undiscovered.
Detecting prostate cancer might do good if it allows timely treatment to save mens lives, but can do harm via treatment side-effects: impotence, incontinence, the anxiety of false alarms or of discovering cancer, and so on.
Whether prostate screening saves lives at all is still debated. Several trials have found no preventive effect. The best-conducted trial showed that screening could prevent about one in five deaths from prostate cancer. However, this protection doesnt happen very often.
For a useful illustration, see the second page of this information sheet. This shows that over 11 years, about 1,000 men must be screened to save one life. In saving this one life, the trade-offs include:
- scores of men will have to undergo a prostate biopsy
- several will have complications of this biopsy
- about 37 extra men will find out they have prostate cancer
- several will suffer cancer treatment side effects such as impotence or incontinence.
How should we weigh up these pros and cons?
For some men, the small chance of benefit and the larger risk of harm leads them to decide not to proceed with testing. For others, the possibility of averting a cancer death, though small and uncertain, is worth the risks.
It’ll Just Take A Minute
There’s no shying away from the fact that this exam involves inserting a gloved and lubricated digit into the rectum. While that may not sound pleasant, it’s over very quickly. The whole appointment might take just few minutes and the part you’re dreading – probably less than 20 seconds.
You’ll be granted some privacy to take off your lower clothing before being asked to lie on your side and draw your knees up to your chest. While it’s natural to tense up in these situations, you be surprised at how easily a lubricated finger slips in. Once it’s in there it usually takes just a few seconds for the anal sphincter to relax around it.
You’ll be aware of some pressing – this shouldn’t be painful but it may make you feel a brief urge to urinate. If you do experience any pain you should tell the examiner straight away. If the exam is physically intolerable for you but deemed necessary it can be performed under general anaesthetic. Once the surface of the prostate has been inspected, the digit is removed and the area around the anus cleaned of any residual lubricant.
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How To Check Your Prostate
This article was co-authored by Robert Dhir, MD. Dr. Robert Dhir is a board certified Urologist, Urological Surgeon, and the Founder of HTX Urology in Houston, Texas. With over 10 years of experience, Dr. Dhirs expertise includes minimally-invasive treatments for enlarged prostate , kidney stone disease, surgical management of urological cancers, and mens health . His practice has been named a Center of Excellence for the UroLift procedure, and is a pioneer in non-surgical procedures for ED using his patented Wave Therapy. He earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from Georgetown University and was awarded honors in pre-medical studies, urology, orthopedics, and ophthalmology. Dr. Dhir served as chief resident during his urological surgical residency at University of Texas at Houston / MD Anderson Cancer Center in addition to completing his internship in general surgery. Dr. Dhir was voted Top Doctor in Urology for 2018 to 2019, one of the top three Best Rated Urologists in 2019 & 2020 for Houston Texas, and Texas Monthly has named him to the 2019 & 2020 Texas Super Doctors Rising Stars list.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 11 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,025,150 times.
What Is Prostate Cancer Screening
The prostate is a gland at the base of the male bladder which wraps itself around the beginning of the urethra . Though small, it can cause big problems for mens well-being. Prostate cancer is the fourth leading cause of death in Australian men, after heart attacks, lung cancer and stroke.
The hope with cancer screening is that, by picking up cancer early, we may forestall death and avoid suffering. But for prostate cancer, our screening tests have significant limitations.
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Who Should Get A Digital Rectal Exam
Not all medical institutions agree on when men should begin screening for prostate cancer or even if a DRE should be part of the screening.
To help detect prostate cancer in its early stages, the American Cancer Society recommends that men talk to their doctors about the benefits, risks, and limitations of prostate cancer screening before deciding whether to be tested.
For most men at average risk, discussions about screening begin at age 50. However, some doctors recommend that men at higher risk of prostate cancer African-American men or men with a family history of prostate cancer start screening earlier.
Reach Out To Us Today
Prostate screenings are crucial to have so that men can catch any signs of prostate cancer early on. Once a man reaches the ages of 40 and above, it is best that he begins to consult with a doctor about this test.
If you have questions about getting a prostate screening and the importance of them, then reach out to our office so that we can help you further. Give us a call or stop by our office today and wed be happy to assist you in any way that we can.
Request an appointment here: or call Center for Adult Medicine and Preventive Care at for an appointment in our Passaic office.
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What To Expect During A Prostate Exam
The prostate sits near the bladder and is a walnut-sized gland in men that helps with the production of semen.
As you get older, your prostate can become enlarged or inflamed, and some men will develop prostate cancer. Its the most common type of cancer in men, with almost 50,000 cases per year in the UK. Around eight in 10 men recover and live for at least 10 years after being diagnosed with it.
With many cancers, including prostate cancer, you may not notice any symptoms in the early stages. This means that the cancer can grow undetected and develop into a more serious stage or spread to other parts of your body.
Catching cancer early is one of the most effective ways to maximise your chances of making a full recovery.
A prostate exam will help your doctor detect anything unusual happening with your prostate so that further investigations can be performed if needed.
Imaging Tests For Prostate Cancer
Imaging tests use x-rays, magnetic fields, sound waves, or radioactive substances to create pictures of the inside of your body. One or more imaging tests might be used:
- To look for cancer in the prostate
- To help the doctor see the prostate during certain procedures
- To look for spread of prostate cancer to other parts of the body
Which tests you might need will depend on the situation. For example, a prostate biopsy is typically done with transrectal ultrasound and/or MRI to help guide the biopsy. If you are found to have prostate cancer, you might need imaging tests of other parts of your body to look for possible cancer spread.
The imaging tests used most often to look for prostate cancer spread include:
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What To Expect During The Digital Rectal Exam
Your doctor may examine you either standing or lying down.
- If standing, you will be asked to stand facing the examination bed, with feet apart, body bent forward and your arms or elbows on the bed. Feel free to ask your doctor to give you a heads up before making any sudden movements.
- Wearing surgical gloves, the doctor will coat a finger in lubricant.
- The finger will be inserted into your rectum in a downwards angle. You may feel a little pressure or slight discomfort, but it shouldn’t hurt. It is important to relax and take deep breaths and let the doctor know immediately if there is pain.
- Your doctor may have to wait a few seconds for your external sphincter muscle to relax, and may ask you to bear down as if you are having a bowel movement.
- The doctor moves the finger in a circular motion in order to identify the lobes and groove of the prostate gland. The doctor checks for:Lumps on or around the prostate
- Hard spots or bumps
- Abnormalities on the prostate
- A normal prostate is usually around 2-4 cm long and has a triangular shape, with a firm and rubbery texture
What Does Prostate Cancer Screening Entail
There are two types of prostate cancer screening exams and both should be done in conjunction with the other: A digital rectal exam and a prostate-specific antigen blood test .
A DRE is a physical exam in which the physician lubricates a gloved finger to gently examine the patients rectum. If it is enlarged or irregular in shape, the doctor will be able to easily detect it. While it may be uncomfortable, the test brief and can be life-saving.
A PSA test is a blood test that measures the level of prostate-specific antigens in the blood. Rising levels of PSA can be one of the first signs of prostate cancer, allowing for early detection and treatment.
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How Do I Get Tested
A general practitioner or an urologist can perform a full prostate cancer exam. This would usually include a PSA blood test and digital rectal exam, also called a DRE.
A Prostate Specific Antigen screening measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The levels of PSA in the blood can be higher in men who have prostate cancer. The PSA level may also be elevated in other conditions.
A Digital Rectal Exam is a test that is done when a doctor or nurse inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to estimate the size of the prostate and feel for lumps or other abnormalities.
Talk to your general doctor or urologist about receiving a prostate exam. If you do not have a doctor, do not have insurance, and cannot afford a test, find out what free screenings are available in your area on our Free Testing Map. If you do not see a free screening in your area, check back in the fall. Many screenings occur in September, during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.
How A Doctor Performs A Prostate Exam
The male reproductive system relies on a healthy prostate to function. The prostate is a relatively small gland. It is the size of a chestnut . The prostate produces a fluid that combines with sperm.
The prostate fluid helps to nourish sperm. In turn, reproduction is possible, and semen can survive in the acidic environment of the vagina.
There are times when a prostate may give a man problems. Several complications have been linked to the prostate gland. Benign prostatic hyperplasia is generally considered the most common type of prostate condition.
Other common issues that men are concerned about include prostate cancer and prostatitis.
Prostate screening is one of the first diagnostic tools used to detect these problems.
While men generally find this to be an uncomfortable procedure, its benefits need to be considered.
We take a look at how a prostate exam is done. The post also considers why a prostate exam is done.
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How Often Do I Need A Prostate Exam
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men, and its also highly treatable if caught early. There are a number of treatment options that have proven to be successful in combatting prostate cancer, even in its advanced stage.
Early detection is crucial because it gives you more treatment options and a better chance of eliminating cancer. The prostate-specific antigen test is used to check the PSA levels in your blood, and these levels are different for every man the indicator is whether the number is going up as compared to your prior PSA exam result. If your PSA is high the first time you have the test, your doctor may ask you to have a biopsy.
Similarly, your doctor will perform a digital rectal exam during your annual checkup to feel for any lumps or enlargement of your prostate. Lets talk about how often you might need to have a prostate exam and what you can expect.
What Are The Risks Of A Prostate Exam
In the medical community, there is some controversy regarding the risks and benefits of a prostate exam. When a DRE is performed and irregularity is detected, 50% of the time there is prostate cancer and 50% of the time there isnt. The risk, then, becomes over-treatment.
Although not a physical health risk, the possibility of further testing, such as a prostate biopsy or an MRI of the prostate, can be anxiety-provoking.
Overall, the benefits highly outweigh the risks. Patients should discuss the pros and cons of prostate cancer screening with their physician to make the best decision for their health.
As men age, they can face physical, sexual and medical health concerns that have an impact on their everyday lives. Making healthy lifestyle choices, like exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet, along with regular checkups and screening tests can help prevent or lead to early treatment of many men’s health threats.
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What Are The Warning Signs Of Prostate Cancer
If you havent been for a prostate exam for some time, it is well worth keeping an eye out for the warning signs of prostate cancer. Some of the warning signs include:
- Changed urination patterns. This can include urinating more frequently or finding it necessary to urinate more often at night. Finding it difficult to empty your bladder, or a weak/interrupted flow can also be a warning sign.
- Blood in urine or semen. Sometimes this may be accompanied by pain or a burning sensation.
- Erectile dysfunction or otherwise abnormal function. If youve found yourself having difficulties gaining or maintaining an erection, and cant identify any other likely cause, this may be a symptom of prostate cancer.
- Discomfort sitting or bending this can be an indication that your prostate is abnormally enlarged.
These warning signs can vary significantly between individuals. The absence of symptoms does not necessarily mean the absence of prostate cancer. Other symptoms may include weight loss, swollen feet, fatigue, or muscle pain elsewhere in the body. To be sure, it is important to book yourself in for a prostate exam.
If you are healthy and have no symptoms/signs, think about doing a prostate exam from 40 years old.
A prostate exam is advisable every one to two years once you reach the age where there is an increased risk of prostate cancer from around 50 and order.
Prostate Exam In Concord Mint Hill And Charlotte
Some men are hesitant about getting tested, but a skilled urologist will give you confidence and knowledge about maintaining your prostate health. Dr. Richard Natale is here to help you maintain optimum sexual health and overall health as well.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Natale, contact our friendly staff at Carolina Urology today by calling 786-5131 or by filling out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to serving you.
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Another Option: Digital Rectal Exams
Most prostate biopsies are driven by PSA results. Urologists also use the digital rectal exam, or DRE.
“The American Urological Association hasn’t recommended rectal exams because there has yet to be a randomized trial in which some men get the rectal exam and some don’t. Based on who lives and dies, this would show if rectal exams have value,” says Dr. Freedland. “Many people, myself included, think they do have value. It’s part of the evaluation that we use even if it’s not officially in our guidelines.”
The DRE may cause momentary discomfort, but it can also detect prostate cancer for those patients with normal PSA levels. “We use the exam because we think it should work and be helpful, even if it hasn’t been studied,” Dr. Freedland adds. “Most people are screened with PSA and DRE.”