Question: What are the key things to know about digital rectal exams for men?
Answer: A digital rectal examination for men simply refers to an examination of the rectal area. It is not some fancy high tech test; digital just means finger, and a digital rectal examination is used by the doctor taking his or her finger and placing inside the rectum.
A lubricated gloved finger is used to do the examination. Why do this examination? The primary reason is to check for prostate disease. Men are prone to prostate cancer, and this is one of the means for testing for prostate cancer -- by no means the only means but certainly one of the effective ways to check for prostate cancer. We also do this test to check for benign prostatic hydroplasia, which is a form of enlargement of the prostate gland that many men develop over time. The examination can also be used in some cases to check for signs of colorectal disease or rectal bleeding. Examination of the lower rectum can be done with the finger, feeling for masses and things that might indicate some kind of malignancy.