What is a Digital Rectal Exam?

Carolyn Vachani, MSN, RN, AOCN
Last Modified: June 16, 2002

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Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
What is a Digital Rectal Exam?  


Carolyn Vachani, MSN, RN, AOCN, OncoLink's Clinical Trials Coordinator, responds:

Digital rectal exam is a technique used by physicians to assess rectal function, feel for rectal tumors or hemorrhoids, and check for blood in the stool. The physician inserts a finger into the patients' rectum and is able to feel the first few inches of the rectal tissue. By obtaining a small amount of stool, the fecal occult blood test can then be used to check for blood in the stool. In men, this test can also evaluate the prostate gland.

Digital Rectal Exam Remains Key in Men With Low PSA

Mar 27, 2015 - Due to the number of men who may have aggressive prostate cancers despite a low prostate specific antigen, digital rectal exams remain important in detecting early cancer, according to research published in the June issue of the Journal of Urology.

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