GPs have been told to stop performing intimate examinations when checking for prostate cancer amid fears it puts men off coming forward.

New guidelines published in the British Journal of General Practice say the test is not reliable and probably does more harm than good.

It allows doctors to feel only the back wall of the prostate, meaning any abnormalities in the middle or front of the gland would be missed.

The bulletin, produced by the Prostate Cancer UK clinical advisory group, states: ‘There is no shortage of references in popular culture to the prostate examination, with many a laugh built on the punchline of the finger up the bum. 

New guidelines published in the British Journal of General Practice say the test is not reliable and probably does more harm than good (File image)

New guidelines published in the British Journal of General Practice say the test is not reliable and probably does more harm than good (File image) 

More than 52,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in the UK, making it the most common cancer in men (File image)

More than 52,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in the UK, making it the most common cancer in men (File image)

‘Interestingly, while cervical, breast, or bowel screening share barriers to uptake around the intimacy of the examination… they have never become comedy tropes – reflecting the uniquely emasculating perception of the rectal examination.’

It comes after a survey of more than 2,000 men by Prostate Cancer UK found 60 per cent were concerned about having a digital rectal exam (DRE). 

Of those, 37 per cent would not speak to a GP about prostate worries because of the check.

Existing guidance from healthcare watchdog NICE says men who have raised levels of the protein PSA in their blood – which may be a sign of cancer – should be sent for MRI scans, meaning the intimate exam has little value.

The group’s article tells GPs: ‘Doing a DRE does not add to your decision making and an MRI will far more accurately indicate whether there are likely benign causes of the PSA being elevated and the man can be discharged without a biopsy.’

It comes after a survey of more than 2,000 men by Prostate Cancer UK found 60 per cent were concerned about having a digital rectal exam (DRE) (File image)

It comes after a survey of more than 2,000 men by Prostate Cancer UK found 60 per cent were concerned about having a digital rectal exam (DRE) (File image)

More than 52,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in the UK, making it the most common cancer in men. Around 12,000 men die every year from the disease – one every 45 minutes.

Chiara De Biase, of Prostate Cancer UK, said: ‘For too many men, when they think of a prostate cancer test, their first thought is about a ‘finger up the bum’.

‘But the evidence is that it’s not really a good test for prostate cancer… the best first step is a quick and easy blood test.’

The Mail has led the way championing prostate health since 1999, encouraging men to stop ‘dying of embarrassment’.

You May Also Like

Dr Michael Mosley says he's taking 2p pill to ward off dementia and cancer

Dr Michael Mosley says he is taking a 2p pill that can…

Six surprising household items that could be making your hay fever worse

The onset of spring and summer spells hay fever hell for thousands…

Global obesity deaths rise by 50 percent since 2000, major report shows – but how does the US compare to other nations?

The number of people dying from obesity-related diseases like heart conditions and…

Warning of 'winter vomiting bug' outbreak… in May! Norovirus infections hit a five-year seasonal high as health chiefs urge public to stay off work for two days if suffering symptoms

Norovirus cases have soared to their highest seasonal level in five years…