Medical Definition of Examination, digital rectal (DRE)

Reviewed on 3/29/2021

Examination, digital rectal (DRE): An exam done to detect abnormalities that can be felt (palpated) from within the rectum. The doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum and feels for anything that is not normal.

The digital rectal exam is an important screening test for the detection of tumors of the rectum and prostate abnormalities, including benign enlargement of the prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia) and cancer of the prostate.

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