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New Member

Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 2/23/2010 10:32 AM (GMT -6)   
I feel a little uncomfortable asking, even on this forum, but what exactly should a man expect for a prostate exam? Is it painful? How embarrassed or awkward did you feel? How long does it take?

Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 3997
   Posted 2/23/2010 10:41 AM (GMT -6)   
the actual DRE takes maybe 5-10 seconds. i'd say it's uncomfortable but tolerable, and you do get used to it. it's the right thing to do but must be combined with PSA tests. my doctor would have never caught my prostate cancer with just a DRE. you are doing the right thing. good luck!

ed r.

Elite Member

Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 25393
   Posted 2/23/2010 11:02 AM (GMT -6)   
I agree, it might be uncomfortable and feel creepy, but in most cases not really any pain. It's very important to have these done, after you have had it done a few times, it gets easier. Good luck.

david in sc
Age: 57, 56 dx, PSA: 7/07 5.8, 7/08 12.3, 9/08 14.5, 10/08 16.3
3rd Biopsy: 9/08 - 7/7 Positive, 40-90% Cancer, Gleason 4+3
Open RP: 11/08, Rht nerves saved, 4 days in hospt, on catheters for 63 days, 5th one out 1/09
Path Rpt: Gleason 3+4, pT2c, 42g, 20% cancer, 1 pos margin
Incontinence:  1 Month     ED:  Non issue at any point post surgery
Post Surgery  PSA: 2/09 .05,5/09 .1, 6/09 .11. 8/09 .16
Post SRT PSA: 1/10 .12
Latest: 7/9 met 2 rad. oncl, 7/9 cath #6 - blockage, 8/9 2nd corr surgery, 8/9 cath #7 out 38 days, 9/9 - met 3rd rad. oncl., mapped  9/9, 10/1 - 3rd corr. surgery - SP cath/hard dialation, 10/5 - 11/27 IMRT SRT 39 sess/72 gys ,cath #8 33 days, Cath #9 35 days, 12/7 - Cath #10 43 days, 1/19 - Corr Surgery #4,  Caths #11 and #12 in at the same time, 2/8-Cath #11 out - 21 days

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2008
Total Posts : 697
   Posted 2/23/2010 11:23 AM (GMT -6)   
Agreed. It's a rude test, uncomfortable but not painful. Mine usually last less than a minute, I guess (although time seems to drag when you're getting a DRE).

I used to REALLY dread them, but when I finished salvage RT my radiation oncologist wanted to do them every 3 months, so I got used to them and it was no big deal. But I notice that my blood pressure is still a little high right before!

Dx Feb 2006, PSA 9 @age 43
RRP Apr 2006 - Gleason 3+4, T2c, NX MX, pos margins
PSA 5/06 <0.1, 8/06 0.2, 12/06 0.6, 1/07 0.7.
Salvage radiation (IMRT) total dose 70.2 Gy, Jan-Mar 2007@ age 44
PSA 6/07 0.1, 9/07 and thereafter <0.1

Steve n Dallas
Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 4849
   Posted 2/23/2010 11:40 AM (GMT -6)   

For our new member:

DRE - digital rectal examination

Age 54   - 5'11"   205lbs
Overall Heath Condition - Good
PSA - July 2007 & Jan 2008 -> 1.3
Biopsy - 03/04/08 -> Gleason 6 
06/25/08 - Da Vinci robotic laparoscopy
05/14/09  - 4th Quarter PSA -> less then .01
11/20/09 - 18 Month PSA -> less then .01
Surgeon - Keith A. Waguespack, M.D.

James C.
Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 4463
   Posted 2/23/2010 12:33 PM (GMT -6)   
The DRE is an important part of the exam, and one lots of men attempt to avoid, along with some doctors who are still not comfortable with it, or who think the man is too young to need it. The procedure itself is you drop your pants, bend over the exam table, the doc smears some lube on your anus, and his glove, he inserts one or two fingers into you, pointing them backwards toward your spine and feels/manipulates the prostate gland. Depending on the length of the fingers, he/she will feel as much of the gland as possible, feeling for rough patches, lumps and any other abnormalities. The exam is usually less than 30 seconds, seldom painful, usually mildly uncomfortable, but necessary for good health. You are usually left with a tissue to clean yourself, and a slight urge to defecate, which passes. By the way, if the doc is thinking he can use the residue on the gloved fingers to do a colo-rectal cancer smear and give you a 2fer. smilewinkgrin Some doctors will preform the exam while the patient is lying on their side, legs drawn up in the fetal position. Patients with chronic prostatetis can also get a little temporary relief from the massage of the prostate, which can press out some of the infection. That being one of the ways that relief is obtained from chronic prostatetis. But that may be too much
James C. Age 62
Co-Moderator- Prostate Cancer Forum
4/07 PSA 7.6, referred to Urologist, recheck 6.7
7/07 Biopsy: 3 of 16 PCa, 5% involved, left lobe, GS 3/3=6
9/07 Nerve sparing open RRP 110gms.- Path Report: GS 3+3=6 Stg. pT2c, 110gms, margins clear
32 mts: PSA's: .04 each test since surgery, ED Continues-Bimix .3ml PRN or Trimix .15ml PRN

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2009
Total Posts : 98
   Posted 2/23/2010 12:55 PM (GMT -6)   
+1 to what others have stated. I'd add that it could give a sense of urgency to pee, so drain yourself prior!

Cajun Jeff
Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2009
Total Posts : 4119
   Posted 2/23/2010 2:04 PM (GMT -6)   
James...I think you got it covered in great detail. That is the way it is done. Beto just take a deep breath and let it happen. Really we all smile at the new guys. Most of us have had it done so many times that we don't think about it much.

Good luck

Jeff T
Jeff T Age 57

9/08 PSA 5.4, referred to Urologist
9/08 Biopsy: GS 3/4=7
10/08 Nerve sparing open RRP- Path Report: GS 3+3=7 Stg. pT2c, margins clear
3 mts: PSA .05 undetectable

10th month PSA <0.01
1year psa <0.01
ED- 5 mg Cialis daily, pump daily, going to try MUSE next. Next step injections.
15 months out injections Caveject (success)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2009
Total Posts : 1100
   Posted 2/23/2010 3:09 PM (GMT -6)   
I really disliked the DRE the first time I had it.  But after that, I sort of knew what to expect, and -- while it is not my idea of an amusing way to spend 30 seconds -- its no big deal.  

Age 45.  Father died of p ca. 
My psa starting age 40: 1.4, 1.3, 1.43, 1.74, 1.7, 1.5

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Sep 2008
Total Posts : 4275
   Posted 2/23/2010 3:12 PM (GMT -6)   

James' description was so accurate it made my cheeks pucker.  And, actually, some of the older non-Pca guys down here in Florida now think that the DRE is the best part of their annual physicals as it's the closest thing to action that they are seeing...LOL.

Seriously, beta, it is a little uncomfortable but only lasts 10-15 seconds.  The key is to relax (if that is possible...).


Age 62, Gleason 4 +3 = 7, T1C, PSA 4.2, 2 of 16 cores cancerous, 27cc
Brachytherapy December 9, 2008.  73 Iodine-125 seeds.  Procedure went great, catheter out before I went home, only minor discomfort.  Regular activities resumed, everything continues to function normally as of 12/09.  6 month PSA 1.4 and now 1 year PSA at 1.0.  My docs are "delighted"!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 981
   Posted 2/23/2010 3:59 PM (GMT -6)   

Model A Vicky
Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 2/23/2010 6:09 PM (GMT -6)   
Ditto to what they all said.  Not a picnic, but not really painful either.  Can't uncouple PSA and DRE.  One without the other is just part of a diagonisis.
Doug: diagnoised age 49 (born 1943)
supporting/loving wife: Pat
1st PSA (1991): 4.0
2nd PSA (1992): 5.4
Biopsy (Nov.1992) 6 samples, all positive
Radical Prostectomy: Jan. 1993 @ age 49
Depression: Onset within 6-8 months (low testerone)
Incontenance: 6 or so weeks, with  very slight problem continuing through present
Impotence: Continues through present
Impotence Treatment:
*Viagra/Cialas/Levitra: limited success
*Testerone Treatment: So-so success (mood swings improved)
*ErectAid: Success, but bad leak-down problem
*Recent coupling of Vigra and ErectAid: Best results, but not perfect.
1993 - 2004 PSA: 0.1
Mid 2004 PSA: 0.3
Late 2004 - Late 2006: PSA fluctates 0.2 - 0.6 (cease testerone therapy)
Possible increase in PSA: Testerone Therapy???
Feb 2007: Begin Radiation
March 2007: Complete 35 Radiation Treatments
August 2007 PSA: 0.01
August 2008 PSA: 0.04 
August 2009 PSA: 0.03
Feburary 2010 PSA: 0.03
August 2008: first (and only so far) Caverject injection--worked like it otta work, but was gone by the time we got home.  Lasted about 3 1/2 hours before completly deflated!  Had the oft mentioned ache.  Wife hasn't been as excited as I was, so no further advancement on that front.  Who knows, maybe sometime later....

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 448
   Posted 2/24/2010 12:55 AM (GMT -6)   
If you want a second opinion,  just tell him to use 2 fingers....    :-)
After 3-4 years of annual PSA 4-6, biopsy recommended
3/13/2007 - 12 point biopsy - Left 0/6  Right 1/6 Gleason 3+3 T1c
4/24/2007 - DaVinci performed at Virginia Mason hospital in Seattle
5/2/2007 - Catheter Out! Final pathology of Gleason 6  T2c Nx Mx, approx 20% of prostate involved, positive margin, but only at 2 focal points.  
6/28/2007 9 weeks incontinance... Overnite, went from 4-6 soaked pads a day from prev 8 weeks to 2 barely wet pads a day.
7/12/2007 11 weeks post-op  Minimal leakage...  one small pad a day
7/18/2007 First Post-Op PSA...  0.01 !!! 
9/10/2007 Pad free and ED at 75% with 100mg Viagra generic
6/26/2008 2nd Post-OP PSA at 14 months...  0.02 
12/2/2008 3rd Post-OP PSA at 20 months...   0.03
10/30/2009 4th Post-OP PSA at 31 months...   0.13 (moved and diff lab)
11/3/2009 Retest at my original lab...  0.11  (followup with Doc sched 11/10)
11/10/2009 Discussion indicated biochemical reccurrence and need for salvage radiation treatment. 
1/21/2010 Another PSA test at 34 months...  0.14
1/26/2010 IMRT Salvage Radiation Treatment started
                  32 sessions for 64 gys total.
2/20/2010 17 down and 15 to go...  No side effects to date except a little
tiredness.  Sometimes feel like a slight sunburn on the inside for a few hours after treatment.

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