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Rectal Examination


Overview :

DRE is performed in most instances as an annual routine procedure in colorectal cancer screening. Digital palpitation of the rectum can often find abnormal growths which may require further testing or commonplace hemorrhoids. It is a critical initial clinical test and is important in the assessment of the size and location of tumors.

This procedure is often not performed routinely on patients over 70, even though this population is at high risk for colorectal cancer. It also is not done as often in elderly women as in elderly men.

DRE has also been used as a screening tool for prostate cancer. It seems to be very effective for larger masses found in the prostate and correlated well with higher prostate-specific antigens.

Of less predictive value was DRE in routine rectovaginal examinations of women under the age of 50. These instances of DRE did not locate colorectal cancer or any other abnormality.

More gastroenterologists are recommending that pediatricians and family physicians perform DRE on pediatric patients exhibiting chronic constipation before those patients are referred to intestinal specialists. The pediatrician or family physician could identify fecal compaction and treat it themselves, and then only refer patients who have a specific abnormality to gastroenterologists.




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