During a rectal examination, the doctor gently inserts a gloved finger (with lubrication) into the rectum (back passage). As the rectum is close to the prostate, your doctor can feel for any abnormalities in the prostate. This may be uncomfortable, but it is quick and should not be painful.
If there is cancer in the prostate, it may feel hard and bumpy. With benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), the prostate is usually enlarged, firm, and smooth. But the prostate can feel normal, even when there are cancer cells inside.