Clear-cell adenocarcinoma of the vagina

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Clear-cell adenocarcinoma

Clear-cell adenocarcinoma (CCA) of the vagina or cervix is a rare adenocarcinoma often linked to prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a drug which was prescribed in high-risk pregnancy.

Clinical features[edit]

After age 30 it was thought that women exposed prenatally, "DES daughters", were no longer were at risk for the disease, but as they age into their 40s and 50, cases continue to be reported.[1]

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), DES daughters should have a pap/pelvic exam every year because of their lifelong risk for clear-cell adenocarcinoma.[2][3]




The synthetic estrogen DES was given to millions of pregnant women in the United States and other countries. Use in the US was primarily from 1938-1971 but not limited to those years. Internationally, DES use continued until the early 1980s. DES was given if a woman had a previous miscarriage, diabetes, or a pregnancy with bleeding, threatened miscarriage or premature labor.

Up until the mid to late 1950s some women were given DES shots. After that, DES was primarily prescribed in pill form. DES also was included in some prenatal vitamins.[citation needed]

In the late 1960s through 1971 a cluster of young women, from their teens into their twenties, was mysteriously diagnosed with CCA, a cancer not generally found in women until after menopause. Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital eventually linked DES exposure before birth to the development of CCA in these young women. They determined the risk for developing CCA among DES daughters is estimated at 1 in a 1,000.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Smith, Emily K.; White, Mary C.; Weir, Hannah K.; Peipins, Lucy A.; Thompson, Trevor D. (1 January 2012). "Higher incidence of clear cell adenocarcinoma of the cervix and vagina among women born between 1947 and 1971 in the United States". SpringerLink. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  2. ^ "Annual Exam for DES Daughters" (PDF). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  3. ^ "Screening for Cervical Cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement". Annals of Internal Medicine. 19 June 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  4. ^ Hatch EE, Palmer JR, Titus-Ernstoff L, et al. (August 1998). "Cancer risk in women exposed to diethylstilbestrol in utero". JAMA. 280 (7): 630–4. doi:10.1001/jama.280.7.630. PMID 9718055.

External links[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the U.S. National Cancer Institute document "Dictionary of Cancer Terms".