The DRE – Guys, Get Over It!
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot more about the dreaded DRE – Digital Rectal Exam. While I understand that guys feel uncomfortable with the exam and some doctors say, it's not necessary, it can still help, right? The answer is yes. So...in this quick article, I’m going to throw my support behind getting a DRE and a PSA at the same time.
What is the DRE?
The DRE is a test that allows the doctor to check out the lower rectum and pelvic area for health problems. Some of the problems may include prostate cancer, abnormal masses in the anus and for women--uterine/ ovarian cancer. Women may get a DRE as a part of a comprehensive pelvic examination.
You really don't have to do anything to get ready either. No fasting or anything like that but, if you have hemorrhoids, you should let the doctor know. While the test only takes a few minutes, letting the doctor know should make the procedure more comfortable for you.
To start the exam, the doctor will insert a single, gloved finger into your butt. Most doctors will ask you to take a deep breath to help you relax as the test starts. Then, the doctor will note the size of the prostate and look for bumps, texture differences and other oddities. To end, the doctor will also feel along the wall of the rectum for problems as well. After a couple of minutes, it's over. Done...that's it.
The one question most guys have is ‘will it hurt?’ If your prostate is naturally large, you may feel some discomfort during the test. Actual “pain” is a rare occurrence during the test. For the large majority of men, they can go back to their regular activities right after the test.
The elephant in the room
Why avoid the test? Ever since I can remember, I’ve heard family members, comedians and just about every guy I’ve met talk about the dreaded DRE. Everyone was totally against it. It's almost like a rite of passage to reject the DRE. Why? Could it be the idea of having something inserted into your body is horrifying to you? Is it more related to being bent over in a vulnerable position (your doctor will usually have you lie on your side anyway)? What about if it's a female doctor? Are you afraid of the results? To take it a step further, what does it mean if there’s no pain at all? Therefore, if you’re expecting pain and you don't have any, does that mean you liked it? C’mon now.
I tend to look at the DRE this way. I’d rather have a finger inserted in my butt versus a scalpel any day. I wonder how many men would still be alive today if we weren’t stuck with these outdated ideas about the DRE. But of course, I’d like to take it a step further. Why not combine two simple tests?
Get both – DRE & PSA
While I’m not here to overrule your doctors I’d like to suggest getting both tests. Some doctors are moving away from both tests for whatever reason, you have to admit the tests are fairly quick and may catch prostate cancer at an early stage. Granted, there is a lot of misinformation among men about the DRE and what actually happens. Please talk to your doctor about getting the DRE and/or PSA. If your doctor is against both, be sure to ask why and what would they suggest? Be sure to advocate for yourself.
As I end this article, I’d like to have some “real talk” here. Let's be honest, many men will be afraid of the results. Fear is a great motivator to remain in the dark. PC is something you don't want to mess with and it's better to diagnose early on. This is my opinion but, I think it's better to know now and start getting healthy.
Have you made personal connections through your journey with prostate cancer?