Adenocarcinoma of the Vagina: Maternal Stilbestrol ingestion leading to future Cancer in Offspring

Association of Maternal Stilbestrol Therapy with Tumor Appearance in Young DES Daughters

1971 Study Abstract

image of Diethylstilbestrol DES clear cell adenocarcinoma CCA vaginal cancer
Diethylstilbestrol clear cell adenocarcinoma vaginal cancer

Adenocarcinoma of the vagina in young women had been recorded rarely before the report of several cases treated at the Vincent Memorial Hospital between 1966 and 1969. The unusual occurrence of this tumor in eight patients born in New England hospitals between 1946 and 1951 led us to conduct a retrospective investigation in search of factors that might be associated with tumor appearance. Four matched controls were established for each patient; data were obtained by personal interview. Results show maternal bleeding during the current pregnancy and previous pregnancy loss were more common in the study group. Most significantly, seven of the eight mothers of patients with carcinoma had been treated with diethylstilbestrol started during the first trimester. None in the control group were so treated (p less than 0.00001). Maternal ingestion of stilbestrol during early pregnancy appears to have enhanced the risk of vaginal adenocarcinoma developing years later in the offspring exposed.


Adenocarcinoma of the Vagina — Association of Maternal Stilbestrol Therapy with Tumor Appearance in Young Women, Arthur L. Herbst, M.D., Howard Ulfelder, M.D., and David C. Poskanzer, M.D., N Engl J Med 1971. Full article NEJM197104222841604 and PDF.

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