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What is a DRE and what could it tell me?

A digital rectal exam is performed by a physician who inserts a lubricated, gloved finger (digit) into the patient’s rectum. The physician is able to feel the surface of a portion of the prostate to determine if there are irregularities such as: shape, size, firmness or nodules. The portion of the prostate that can be felt is a normal location for prostate cancer to start. If irregularities are found, a prostate biopsy is usually suggested. A DRE is an important compliment to PSA testing because some of the most aggressive cancers found in the prostate do not produce (much) PSA.

When a patient is diagnosed with prostate cancer, the results of the DRE are a critical factor in evaluating the stage of his cancer and his options. This is referred to as Clinical Stage.