DES Side Effects Injury Lawsuits. Did you or your mother take diethylstilbestrol (DES) during pregnancy? Are you a victim of breast cancer? Women who took DES while pregnant and their daughters (known today by the sad moniker DES Daughters) face a much higher risk of certain health problems, including breast cancer. Lawyers at our firm who specialize in defective drug litigation are currently offering free lawsuit evaluations to any woman suffering from breast cancer that might be related to ‘DES’.
According to the National Cancer Institute, 16 percent of women prescribed ‘DES’ during pregnancy developed breast cancer, in comparison with 13 percent of women not prescribed DES. Therefore, it is estimated that one in six women who were prescribed ‘DES’ will develop breast cancer, whereas one in eight women in the general population will develop the disease.
The National Cancer Institute also warns the high levels of estrogen to which DES daughters are likely to have been exposed to in utero may place them at increased risk of developing breast cancer. In addition, having no children or having a first child at age 30 or older increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer; infertility or pregnancy problems may place some DES daughters in these groups at additional risk. In a recent 2002 study, DES Daughters over 40 years old were 2.5 times more likely to experience breast cancer than were unexposed women over age 40.
Injured by DES (Diethylstilbestrol)?
DES (Diethylstilbestrol) is a synthetic form of estrogen that was prescribed between 1938 and 1971 to help women with certain complications of pregnancy. DES has been linked to clear cell adenocarcinoma, an uncommon cancer of the vagina or cervix, in daughters of women who used DES during pregnancy. A study published in August 2006 found that women whose mothers took ‘DES’ during pregnancy have almost double the risk of breast cancer. DES sons are at increased risk of epididymal cysts. Children and grandchildren of women who took Diethylstilbestrol during pregnancy are at an increased risk of developing significant injuries ranging from rare cancers to genital abnormalities. Parker & Waichman, LLP represents daughters, granddaughters, sons and grandsons who have suffered from side effects of ‘DES’.
All DES daughters (women whose mothers took ‘DES’ while pregnant with them) have a risk of about 1 in 1,000or a rare cancer of the vagina or cervix called clear cell adenocarcinoma. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with clear cell adenocarcinoma, we urge you to contact the DES Cancer Network. This cancer is practically non-existent in non-exposed women in this age group. Because of this risk ‘DES’ daughters need a special exam at least once a year. ‘DES’ Daughters have an increased risk for infertility. Infertility treatments for DES daughters are, in general, not different from those for other women. DES daughters may want to see a doctor experienced in treating DES-exposed women.
Pregnancy Complications DES Daughters have a higher risk for ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, and preterm labor and delivery. Most ‘DES’ daughters can become pregnant and carry their babies to term. However, because of the above risks, all ‘DES’ daughters (whether they have had previous normal pregnancies or not) require high-risk obstetric care and early confirmation of pregnancy. ‘DES’ daughters should have their pregnancies confirmed by a health care provider as soon as pregnancy is suspected, and should be seen more frequently throughout their pregnancies.
Reproductive Organ Problems
DES daughters have an increased incidence of structural changes in their reproductive organs. These may or may not be linked to pregnancy problems, and are not known to be linked to cancer.
DES Sons and Grandsons Although less is known about the consequences of ‘DES’ exposure in men than in women, a number of concerns have been identified. It is important for men who know or suspect they are ‘DES’ sons to be aware of possible problems and know what to do about them. Most men exposed to ‘DES’ before birth have no known increased risk of health problems. However, some DES sons do face an increased risk for problems with their genital organs. These range from harmless irregularities to problems that may require medical treatment. Many people, including some doctors, do not know that men can be affected by ‘DES’ exposure before birth.
- Epididymal cysts are the most common abnormality in DES sons. The epididymis is a structure on the back of each testicle where sperm are stored. Epididymal cysts are non-cancerous growths that feel like small lumps. They may disappear and recur over time. They do not need to be treated unless they are painful. However, report all lumps to your doctor and perform testicular self-exams on a monthly basis. Testicular problems in some men exposed to DES include both small testicles and undescended testicles. Both of these abnormalities are visible at birth. Men with undescended testicles have an increased chance of developing testicular cancer, even if their mothers didn’t take ‘DES’. An abnormally small penis (microphallus) occurs more often in ‘DES’ sons than in other men.
- Some studies have indicated that testicular varicoceles occur more often in DES sons than in other men. A varicocele is an irregularly swollen or varicose vein on the testicle. This enlarged vein produces a higher temperature than is normal for testicles, and over a period of years can lower the number of normal sperm as a result. Hypospadias is a condition where the opening of the penis is located on the under-surface of the penis rather than at the end.
- A 1995 study comparing a group of men exposed to ‘DES’ to a group of men not exposed to DES found that ‘DES’ had no effect on fertility. The men in this study were all born between 1950 and 1953. The study measured the following factors as indicators of fertility: whether the men had ever impregnated a woman, age at the birth of their first child, average number of children, medical diagnosis of a fertility problem, or length of time to conception in the most recent pregnancy of the female partner. There was no semen analysis done in this study, and thus we do not know whether DES sons have, on average, lower sperm counts. This study indicates that ‘DES’ does not seem to affect fertility in males.
- Another study finds that grandsons of women who took the drug diethylstilbestrol, or ‘DES’, during pregnancy may be more likely to develop an abnormality of the penis.