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Des/Stilboestrol

Volume 173: debated on Tuesday 5 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will implement the recommendations made in 1989 by the European Commission regarding the drug DES/Stilboestrol;(2) if there are any plans to compile a register of people who have been exposed to the drug DES/Stilboestrol;(3) if he has any plans to assist individuals and their families who have been adversely affected by a prescription of the drug DES/Stilboestrol.

About 7,500 women in the United Kingdom were prescribed diethylistlboestrol during pregnancy. There is published evidence that this may have increased their risk of getting breast cancer by a small amount. There is also evidence of an increased risk of the daughters of women who received diethylstilboestrol in pregnancy getting vaginal cancer (a rare disease) or cervical cancer.The number of women who might develop such a cancer is very small, and no specific arrangements have been made to identify them. However, the prospects for early detection of breast and cervical cancer, irrespective of its origin, have been greatly enhanced by the introduction of national screening programmes. It is open to any woman who does not fall within the age groups covered by the programmes to consult her doctor, who will arrange for any test which he or she considers necessary. Women who develop any symptoms which worry them should of course go immediately to their GP.In June 1989 the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the use of diethylstilboestrol and its effects on the health of users and their children. The resolution called on the European Commission to identify those exposed to DES and to take appropriate action. It is for the European Commission to respond on the resolution.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research is being conducted into the effects of the drug, DES/Stilboestrol.

This Department has sponsored no such research. Information about research conducted by other research institutions is not collected centrally by the Department.