Mon | Jan 25, 2021

Digital rectal exam not necessary, argues doctor

Published:Monday | December 2, 2019 | 12:10 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
A diagram of a digital rectal examination to screen the prostate.
A diagram of a digital rectal examination to screen the prostate.

A local medical doctor says that digital rectal exams are not necessary to screen patients for prostate cancer.

Dr Audley Betton, who is also a survivor of the disease, says that there are other forms of screening. He was speaking to an audience of mainly men during a guest presentation at the recent launch of Brothers United Against Prostate Cancer.

“The big thing is that I am not an advocate for digital rectal examination. It is not a complete test. There are a lot of people in Europe who believe it is not necessary because they can do MRIs and ultrasounds to determine if you have cancer,” he said.

The medical doctor, who heads the Mannings Hill Medical Centre in St Andrew, added that by the time one discovers that he has cancer by using traditional modes of screening, it may be too late.

“I am telling you that when a diagnosis is made, the best thing to do is to sit down and inform yourself of what exactly you are going to [encounter], having [got] the disease. We talk about screening, but by the time you find out, it will be too late,” Betton told the audience, some of whom were prostate cancer survivors.


He pointed out that even biopsies can be risky, noting that during a biopsy, which is a process of removing a portion of affected tissue for examination, there is an opportunity for cancer cells to spread inadvertently to other parts of the body.

“If you read every blog, there are people who will tell you what you must do to prevent cancer, but does anybody really know what causes prostate cancer?

“There are only lots of theories, and those theories have to do with diet. God put all the medicine in plants, and if you don’t make your food your medicine, then medicine will become your food,” he warned the audience.

Brothers United Against Prostate Cancer is a peer-support group in the Caribbean that provides public education, spiritual grounding, and accurate information on medical and caregiving options that empower men and their families to cope with the disease. The entity is to operate under the Jamaica Cancer Society.