MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Jason Profetto, MD, CCFP
Family and Academic Medicine
Chair, Clinical Skills
Undergraduate Medical Education
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: The main reason that prompted me to investigate the issue of digital rectal exams in primary care for prostate screening was that it appeared to be rather dogmatic practice (continually practiced by many despite updated data suggesting a lack of benefit). I was very curious to see if there was any data that suggested the digital rectal exams was indeed a useful indicator in primary practice (ie. Family Medicine) in detecting prostate cancer in asymptomatic men. Intuitively, I didn’t believe the DRE was accurate mainly because in medical school it’s generally under-represented in clinical skills teaching and poorly taught and assessed (not just in Ontario, but also Canada). As a result, it seemed bizarre to me that this specific clinical skills was being used as a routine measure in family medicine to screen for prostate cancer. Also, for me this was a big issue as many men in my practice were used to having yearly “rectal exams” done and I thought it was time to really take a closer look at the research to see whether or not we can support this practice.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: The main findings suggest that the digital rectal exam is not helpful/accurate in detecting prostate cancer in asymptomatic men in family practice or primary care.