What's the connection between diethylstilbestrol (DES) and cancer?

Gustavo Rodriguez, MD
Gynecologic Oncology
The link between DES and cancer was mainly an association with the upper vagina and cervix. Researchers are not aware of a link with ovarian and endometrial cancer. For upper vagina and cervical cancer, the risk was one per 1,000 women exposed in the womb to the hormone. It was not some huge percentage. Doctors haven’t seen a second wave of these cancers, so right now there’s no reason to believe that exposures will cause cancers later in life.

But DES has not been used in pregnancy since the 1970s. In years to come, this is going to be less and less of an issue.

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