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Diethylstilboestrol (DES)

1-minute read

Diethylstilboestrol (DES) is a synthetic form of oestrogen. It was prescribed between 1938 and 1971 to women to ensure healthy pregnancies and prevent miscarriages.

Use of DES declined in the 1960s after studies showed that it was not effective in preventing complications during pregnancy.

While most people exposed to DES will not experience negative health effects, it has been linked to:

The daughters of women who used DES while pregnant — often called ‘DES daughters’ — are at increased risk of some cancers, including clear cell adenocarcinoma, and have a slight increased risk of breast cancer. They may also be at higher risk of early menopause.

The sons of women who used DES while pregnant are also at increased risk of testicular problems such as undescended testes, testicular cysts, inflammation or infection.

Follow the links below to find out more about DES.

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Last reviewed: August 2018

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Diethylstilboestrol (DES) | Cancer Australia

Information on DES including cancer risk and screening recommendations. DES is a synthetic form of the female hormone oestrogen, which was prescribed to pregnant women from the 1940s to the early 1970s to prevent miscarriage and other pregnancy-related complications.

Read more on Cancer Australia website

DES daughters - Better Health Channel

If your mother took DES while she was pregnant with you, then you are a DES daughter or DES son.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

What is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix. These abnormal cells can develop into tumours and in worst case scenarios – spread throughout the body.

Read more on Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation website

Breast cancer -

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australian women.The good news is that with advances in treatment and diagnosis, more women are surviving breast cancer than ever before.

Read more on myDr website

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