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rINN: Diethylstilbestrol
Other Names
DES, Diethylstilboestrol, Stilboestrol, Diethylstilbestrolum, 4- [4- (4-hydroxyphenyl) hex-3-en-3-yl] phenol
Pharmacological Information
Pharmacology Images
Web information on Diethylstilbestrol
Mechanism of Action
Synthetic oestrogen
Other Issues for Diethylstilbestrol
Withdrawn from common usage in 1971. Rarely used for small number of cases of prostate and breast cancer.
Relevant Clinical Literature
UK Guidance
Regulatory Literature
Other Literature
Other Wikis
Wikipedia on Diethylstilbestrol (Less technical, ? quality control)

Synthetic oestrogen used between the 1940's and 1970s as a treatment for morning sickness and to reduce the rate of miscarriage (despite little evidence that it was effective in either condition[1][2]). It was withdrawn in 1971 for these indications due to adverse effects in the mothers themselves[3] as well as in children born to mothers who had been on DES. It is still used today in a small number of cases of prostate cancer and breast cancer.

In female children, an increased risk of vaginal cancer was noted and several studies have shown an association with breast cancer, [4] [5] [6] with a further recent study supporting a link.[7] [8].

Some male children suffered from urogenital abnormalities, testicular cancer and fertility problems.



There are several esters so it can be adminstered orally or parentally depending upon indication


Rarely used given side effect profile

  • Carcinoma prostate 1-3mg od
  • Postmenopausal woman with breast cancer 10-20mg od

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