6 doctors weighed in:

What can a doctor's rectal exam tell me about my risk for colon cancer?

6 doctors weighed in
3 doctors agree

In brief: Screening tool

On rare occasion a low lying rectal cancer can be detected on the exam by feeling it.
Most often stool is sampled and analyzed for traces of blood. If blood is found then the doctor can check for hemorrhoids and may recommend a colonoscopy to find out if there is a specific cause such as a polyp or a cancer or diverticulosis.

In brief: Screening tool

On rare occasion a low lying rectal cancer can be detected on the exam by feeling it.
Most often stool is sampled and analyzed for traces of blood. If blood is found then the doctor can check for hemorrhoids and may recommend a colonoscopy to find out if there is a specific cause such as a polyp or a cancer or diverticulosis.
Dr. Prashant Sinha
Dr. Prashant Sinha
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Dr. Eric Kaplan
Surgery - Colorectal
2 doctors agree

In brief: Depends

A digital rectal exam can reduce the likelihood of a cancer near the anus, and can detect if you have blood in your stool.
If either demonstrates an abnormality, then you need a colonoscopy to evaluate the rest of your colon.

In brief: Depends

A digital rectal exam can reduce the likelihood of a cancer near the anus, and can detect if you have blood in your stool.
If either demonstrates an abnormality, then you need a colonoscopy to evaluate the rest of your colon.
Dr. Eric Kaplan
Dr. Eric Kaplan
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