DES Daughters’ Breast Cancer Management

Management of breast cancer in patients prenatally exposed to diethylstilbestrol : are we prepared ?

2005 Study Abstract

The use of diethylstilbestrol (DES) for high risk pregnancy has exposed millions of mothers to an increased risk of breast cancer, and also resulted in a generation of women with genital tract abnormalities, such as vaginal adenosis.

It is still too early to say that exposure to DES will also result in an increased risk of breast cancer in the offspring, though there is some preliminary evidence to support this.

  • The employment of optimal hormonal therapy (for breast cancer) in this special population may be hampered by the fact that agents with oestrogen agonistic activity (such as tamoxifen) may be contraindicated.
  • Though some of the newer hormonal agents, such as the pure anti-oestrogen Fulvestrant and the aromatase inhibitors, could be considered interesting alternatives for postmenopausal patients, their safety in this population has never been evaluated.
  • Finally, the prevalence prenatal exposure to DES may have been underestimated patients diagnosed with breast cancer, though this information might have major implications in their management.

We report on the interesting example of a young woman with a history of vaginal adenosis, who was also diagnosed with early breast cancer.


  • Management of breast cancer in patients prenatally exposed to diethylstilbestrol: are we prepared?, Breast (Edinburgh, Scotland), NCBI PubMed, PMID: 16216745, 2005 Oct.
  • Featured image credit Sydney Rae.

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