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NICE is not planning to update prostate digital rectal examination guidance

NICE has no plans to review its recommendations on digital rectal examinations for prostate cancer, following a study which suggested that it is an unnecessary investigation, Pulse has learned.

The body explained that as the suspected cancer guidance was updated last year, it is not due for review, and while the prostate cancer guidance is currently being updated, DRE is not included in the areas up for review.

However it added that if a study has a substantial impact on a guideline, it can trigger an exceptional review earlier.

This comes after researchers from Hull York Medical School set out to determine the accuracy of rectal examinations for prostate cancer diagnosis, in patients presenting to their GP with symptoms, and concluded that performing the examination in primary care is ‘unnecessary’ and may even delay diagnosis by deterring some men with symptoms from seeking medical help.

The systematic review, published in BMC Family Practice, found that patients with symptoms who have a normal result upon the physical check still have a 15.8% risk of cancer, well above the 3% risk threshold suggested by NICE for an urgent referral.

But NICE has told Pulse that this study was not included in the latest review of the guideline, so will not be included in the current update.

This follows the Government announcement from last month, that £75m will be invested to support new research into early diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. 


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