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.

Sources

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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After DES DiEthylStilbestrol : tracking the Harms of a Prenatal Drug Exposure

NCI Cancer Bulletin Archives 2011

After DES: Tracking the Harms of a Prenatal Drug Exposure
NCI Cancer Bulletin for October 18, 2011

Kari Christianson was 23 years old when she first heard of a drug called diethylstilbestrol, or DES.

It was the spring of 1972, and Dr. Arthur Herbst – who had recently published the study Adenocarcinoma of the Vagina — Association of Maternal Stilbestrol Therapy with Tumor Appearance in Young Women  suggesting that the drug, when used by pregnant women, might cause cancer in their offspring years later – was on television discussing concerns about the drug. For decades, doctors had prescribed DES to millions of healthy pregnant women, including Kari’s mother, based on unsubstantiated claims that it reduced the complications of pregnancy. “

Continue reading Kari’s story and Edward Winstead‘s post:
After DES: Tracking the Harms of a Prenatal Drug Exposure
NCI Cancer Bulletin for October 18, 2011.

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The DES Paper 40th Anniversary – Dr Arthur Herbst

The University of Chicago, 17 May 2011

Commemorating Arthur L Herbst and the 40th Anniversary of His Landmark DES Paper.

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