Women prescribed DES while pregnant are at a modestly increased risk for breast cancer. They should be screened for breast cancer with the same tests and at the same intervals as women in the general population. The following are action steps you can take to protect your health.
- Have clinical breast exams and regular mammograms
Most health care providers recommend that women 40 years of age and older have a mammogram (an X-ray of the breast) every 1-2 years. In addition, most health care providers perform clinical breast examinations (visual and manual examination of the breast) during routine physical examinations. Additional guidelines for breast cancer screening can be found at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Web site (www.cancer.gov) or the American Cancer Society (ACS) Web site (www.cancer.org). A description of mammography can be found at the ACS Web site by typing "mammography" in the Search box on the Home page and then clicking on the link to the Glossary and typing "mammography" in the cancer-related terms box.
- Perform monthly breast self-exams
Most health care providers suggest that you learn and practice monthly breast self-examination as a way to detect any lumps in your breasts, discharge from the nipples, or skin changes (such as dimpling or puckering). Instructions for breast self-examination can be found at the ACS Web site by typing "breast self-exam" in the Search box on the Home page and then clicking on the link "How to Perform a Breast Self-exam."
- Talk with your family, especially your children, about DES
If you have not already discussed it, you may find it difficult to tell your children they were exposed to DES. However, many mothers feel a sense of relief after telling their children; family members need to know whether they were exposed to DES. Once your children know about their exposure, they can get proper medical care to protect their health now and in the future.
- Encourage your children to notify their health care provider about their DES exposure before birth (in the womb).
- Request copies of CDC's DES Update to share with your children. Order copies online
or call 1-800-CDC-INFO.
- Share the DES Self-Assessment Guide
As you talk with others about DES, they may wonder whether they were exposed to DES. To assess whether they may have been exposed to DES, encourage them to use the Interactive DES Self-Assessment Guide or order a copy of the print version.
- Stay up-to-date on DES research
Researchers continue to study DES and will learn more health information about DES exposure in follow-up studies. For more information refer to Recent DES Research.
- For more information about
- Breast cancer risk for women prescribed DES while pregnant, refer to Recent DES Research, and DES Bibliography.
- Breast cancer causes and prevention, visit the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Web site at www.cancer.gov or call the Cancer Information Service (CIS) toll-free 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). The American Cancer Society (ACS) also provides detailed information about breast cancer screening at their Web site (www.cancer.org).
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