Digital Rectal Exam

Author: OncoLink Team
Last Reviewed: August 3, 2020

What is a digital rectal exam?

A digital rectal exam (DRE) is a test used to examine the lower rectum, prostate, pelvis, and lower belly for any changes that could indicate cancer. It can be used if you are having bleeding or a change in your bowel habits. 

How is it done?

Your care provider will ask you to either stand up or lie down. He or she will then insert a gloved and lubricated finger into your rectum. Your provider will feel for anything that may not feel normal and any changes. 

This exam may feel unpleasant but should not be painful. It should take less than a minute. If your provider feels anything abnormal, you may be ordered further testing. 

What should I expect after the test?

You can return to your normal activities after the test is done. You may experience a small amount of bleeding if you have a history of hemorrhoids or anal fissures. If you have more than a small amount of bleeding, you should call your care provider. 

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