DES-induced Testis Cancer

Male reproductive health and environmental xenoestrogens, 1996


Incidence of Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is now the most common malignancy of young men in many countries; and although it is still rare compared to the malignant diseases most prevalent in old age, the lifetime risk of developing testicular cancer now approaches 1% in a country such as Denmark. The incidence of testicular cancer has increased for several decades.

Risk factors for testicular cancer have been analyzed in several case-control studies. Estrogen treatment of mothers whose sons have developed testicular cancer has remained an equivocal risk factor. It is unfortunate that there are no prospective studies yet concerning the testicular cancer risk among males exposed to DES.

The effect of DES on risk of development of testis cancer seems to be unclear; only a slight increase in risk has been cautiously suggested.

Occurrence of Abnormalities in the Reproductive System of the Sons of Women Exposed to Diethylstilbestrol during Pregnancy


Exposure to DES during pregnancy results in an increased risk for several male reproductive disorders, such as cryptorchidism, urethral abnormalities, epididymal cysts, and testicular hypoplasia. In addition, the semen quality of DES sons is worse than that of controls. Incidence of testicular cancer is approximately doubled among DES sons compared to the general population, but whether this represents a true increase of the cancer risk is equivocal.

Effects of Synthetic Estrogens on the Testis in Animal Models


Diethylstilbestrol treatment of experimental animals in utero results in increased incidence of cryptorchidism; urethral abnormalities; testicular hypoplasia; poor semen quality; and infertility, abnormalities in accessory sex organs, rete testis adenocarcinoma, interstitial cell hyperplasia, and tumors. Thus, the outcome of DES exposure of experimental animals is highly analogous to the findings in humans.


  • Full study (free access) : Male reproductive health and environmental xenoestrogens, Environmental Health Perspectives, NCBI PubMed PMC1469672, 1996 Aug.
  • Featured image clevelandclinic.

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