Breast Cancer Community
9.41k Members
1492829 tn?1288637562

DES and Breast Cancer in 2nd generation women

Has anyone heard of the drug DES as affecting 2nd generation women when it comes to breast cancer? I know there is research being done as no one knows what the long term effects are but my grandmother took the drug in the 50's when pregnant with my mother which lead to her having issues with her uterus and cervix resulting in my birth almost 3 months early and a removal of all her female parts shortly after my sister's birth.
I have yet to have any children and we have no family history of breast cancer yet at 30 I have been diagnosed with Stage 2 (based on size) invasive ductal carcinoma. I wonder if my little sister should start getting tested at 27 since I have been affected is there anything I can do to help her avoid being in my shoes?
4 Responses
25201 tn?1255584436
I don't know about the drug HOWEVER since you have been diagnosed fairly early there may be some familial connection. If your Mother tests positive for the BC gene then you and your Sister likely are also positive. In this case you both should have begun testing much earlier than normal. Of course now this advice is a mute point but you Sister should begin Mammography. As unfortunate as it seems many women in their 30s are diagnosed with BC with or without any family history.    Regards ....
962875 tn?1314213636
As you probably know, DES Daughters are defined as women born between 1938 and 1971 who were exposed to DES before birth (in the womb). Research has confirmed that DES Daughters are at an increased risk for:

Clear cell adenocarcinoma (CCA), a rare kind of vaginal and cervical cancer
Increased risk for clear cell cancer appears to be highest for DES Daughters in their teens and early 20s. However, cases have been reported for DES Daughters in their 30s and 40s (Hatch, 1998).
Reproductive tract structural differences (for example, T-shaped uterus)
Pregnancy complications, such as ectopic (tubal) pregnancy and pre-term delivery

Here is a link to the Center for Disease Control Web site on DES:

There is no mention of breast cancer as a known side effect.

However, as japdip suggested, since you have been dx with BC at such a young age, you may want to consider genetic testing for BRCA 1 and 2, which can be inherited from either side of the family.  This could be important information in regard to the level of BC risk for children you may have in the future, as well as for your sister.

Best wishes...
Avatar universal
A related discussion, Can DES Daughters Cause Breast Cancer Over 40, You Bet! was started.
962875 tn?1314213636
After responding to your post in 2010,  I later came across a new study which revealed addtional risks to DES daughters. I was unable to find your thread, so I could not update  the information I had posted about a year earlier. I am glad to have the opportunity to do that now:

"A 20-year study, published October 2011 in the New England Journal of Medicine, lists 12 known health conditions with direct links to DES exposure. Eight of these are fertility-related, ranging from ectopic pregnancy, to infertility, to miscarriage. Of the remaining four, two are cancers: clear cell adenocarcinoma, a rare vaginal cancer; and breast cancer.

According to the study, breast cancer risk for DES Daughters over the age of 40 is nearly double that of the general population. This means that while all DES daughters are subject to the same “1 in 8 lifetime risk” other women worry about, an additional 1 in 50 will develop breast cancer as a result of their DES exposure."

Lawsuits have been filed on behalf of DES daughters around the country who developed BC as adults. One lawsuit, currently in trial in Boston, is being featured in the news at this time.

Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
A quick primer on the different ways breast cancer can be treated.
Diet and digestion have more to do with cancer prevention than you may realize
From mammograms to personal hygiene, learn the truth about these deadly breast cancer rumors.
Breast cancer is not an inevitability. From what you eat and drink to how much you exercise, learn what you can do to slash your risk.
In You Can Prevent a Stroke, Dr. Joshua Yamamoto and Dr. Kristin Thomas help us understand what we can do to prevent a stroke.
Smoking substitute may not provide such a healthy swap, after all.