Diethylstilboestrol: I, Pharmacology, Toxicology and Carcinogenicity in Humans, 1992

European journal of cancer (Oxford, England : 1990)


Diethylstilboestrol is still used as an adjunct palliative treatment in certain patients with breast and prostate cancer. Its pharmacological, toxicological and carcinogenic properties are reviewed.

In addition to the usual untoward effects following subacute or chronic administration of oestrogens, treatment with diethylstilboestrol has been associated with serious cardiovascular sequelae.

Most characteristic are, however, the carcinogenic properties of this drug.

  • Many epidemiological data provide evidence that prenatal exposure to diethylstilboestrol is causally associated with vaginal and cervical clear-cell adenocarcinomas, a very rare type of cancer in the unexposed female population.
  • The intrauterine exposure of males leads to an increased risk of testicular cancer, although the data are less conclusive in this respect.
  • There is some evidence that administration of diethylstilboestrol in large doses to adult women during pregnancy increases the risk of subsequent breast cancer
  • and it probably increases the incidence of endometrial carcinoma, as has been shown with other similar oestrogens given chronically for menopausal symptoms.


  • Diethylstilboestrol: I, Pharmacology, Toxicology and carcinogenicity in humans, European journal of cancer, NCBI PubMed PMID: 1627392, 1992.
  • Featured image Luis Melendez.

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