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Diethylstilboestrol (DES)

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 pregnancy complications.

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

  • an increased risk of birth defects
  • an small increased risk of breast cancer, and some other cancers, in women exposed during pregnancy.

Follow the links below to find trusted information about DES.

Last reviewed: July 2016

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Diethylstilbestrol (DES) and cancer

Diethylstilbestrol (DES) is a synthetic female hormone previously commonly prescribed to prevent miscarriages. Exposure to DES is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer, birth defects and anatomical changes in male and female reproductive systems.

Read more on WA Health 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

Cervical cancer - myDr.com.au

Read about cervical cancer and associated tests and risk factors.

Read more on myDr website

Breast cancer Q and A - myDr.com.au

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. Fortunately, much research has been done into its treatment and causes. Find out the latest about breast cancer.

Read more on myDr website

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