The DRE is a common way of helping to diagnose a prostate problem. Your doctor or nurse feels the prostate through the wall of the back passage (rectum).

The DRE may be carried out by your GP and will be repeated by the hospital specialist if your GP thinks you should see one. If you are having a PSA test, the DRE should be done after the PSA test if possible. This is because having a DRE just before a PSA test could very slightly raise your PSA level.

You will lie on your side, on an examination table, with your knees brought up towards your chest. The doctor or nurse will slide their finger gently into your back passage. They will wear gloves and put some gel onto their finger to make it more comfortable. Some men may find this embarrassing or uncomfortable, but it is over quickly and shouldn't be painful.

If the prostate feels larger than expected for your age, this could be a sign of an enlarged prostate. A prostate with hard bumpy areas might suggest prostate cancer.

If your DRE shows anything unusual, you might be referred to a hospital specialist.

Having someone examine you from the rear isn’t great but it’s only a few seconds of discomfort.

- A personal experience

Updated: February 2014 | Due for Review: February 2016