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Drugs List

  • diethylstilbestrol 1mg tablets
  • Therapeutic Indications


    Prostate cancer

    Metastatic post-menopausal carcinoma of the breast



    Prostatic carcinoma
    1mg - 3mg daily

    Post-menopausal breast carcinoma
    10mg - 20mg daily


    Prostatic carcinoma
    1mg - 3mg daily

    Post-menopausal breast carcinoma
    10mg - 20mg daily


    Not indicated for use - see also Precautions and Warnings.

    Patients with Renal Impairment

    There is no specific dosing regimen, however caution is advised.

    Patients with Hepatic Impairment

    Severe hepatic impairment
    Contraindicated in patients with active or severe hepatic impairment.

    Mild-moderate hepatic impairment
    There is no specific dosing regimen, however caution is required in patients with a history of or with cholestatic jaundice from any cause e.g. jaundice of pregnancy or following the use of oral contraceptives.


    For oral administration.


    Moderate hypertension
    Cerebrovascular disorder
    History of thromboembolic disorder
    Severe / active hepatic disorder
    Cardiovascular disorder
    Pulmonary hypertension
    Sickle cell disease
    Untreated polycythaemia

    Children under 18 years of age


    Additional contraindications for use in women
    Premenopausal women (including premenopausal women with breast cancer)
    Oestrogen-dependent neoplasms - especially of the genital tract
    Endometrial hyperplasia
    Uterine fibromyomata
    History of herpes gestationis
    Undiagnosed gynaecological bleeding
    Pregnancy (see Pregnancy section)
    Breastfeeding ( see Lactation section )

    Precautions and Warnings

    Diethylstilbestrol has carcinogenic potential and should not be used in children and young adults.

    Use with caution in the following conditions:
    Cardiac failure
    Diabetes mellitus
    Epileptic disorder
    Mild to moderate hepatic impairment
    History of jaundice - from any cause e.g. after oral contraceptives/following pregnancy
    Renal impairment

    In diabetes mellitus glucose tolerance may be lowered and the need for insulin or other anti-diabetic drugs may be increased.

    Monitor blood pressure at regular intervals. Discontinue if hypertension develops.

    The high oestrogenic activity associated with diethylstilbestrol treatment increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis.
    Discontinue if signs or symptoms of thrombosis occur.
    Discontinue before planned surgery.

    Prolonged use may increase the risk of endometrial carcinoma.

    May interfere with thyroid function tests as the level of thyroid binding globulin is increased leading to increased circulating total thyroid hormone.

    Contact lens wearers may experience corneal irritation or discomfort.

    This medication contains lactose and therefore patients with glucose-galactose malabsorption syndrome or those who are lactose intolerant should not take this drug.

    The tablet coating contains sunset yellow (E110) - may cause allergic reaction.

    Pregnancy and Lactation



    High doses are associated with vaginal carcinoma, urogenital abnormalities and reduced fertility in female offspring.
    In the male offspring there is an increased risk of hypospadias.

    The use of all medication in pregnancy should be avoided whenever possible; particularly in the first trimester. Non-drug treatments should also be considered. When essential, a medication with the best safety record over time should be chosen, employing the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time. Polypharmacy should be avoided. Teratogens taken in the pre-embryonic period, often quoted as lasting until 14-17 days post-conception, are believed to have an all-or-nothing effect. Where drugs have a short half-life, and when the date of conception is certain, this may allow women to be reassured where drug exposure has occurred within this time frame. Further advice may be available from the UK National Teratology Information Service (NTIS) and through ToxBase, available via password on the internet ( ) or if this is unavailable at the backup site ( ).



    There are no reports of its use during lactation, but it would be expected to affect the composition of milk. Given its carcinogenic potential, it use during breastfeeding is contraindicated.

    Neonates, infants born prematurely, those with low birth weight, those with an unstable gastrointestinal function or who have serious illnesses may require special consideration. For any infant, if a drug is prescribed to the nursing mother, it should be at the lowest practical dose and for the shortest time. When drug administration is unavoidable and breastfeeding is to continue, minimisation of exposure of the infant to the drug may sometimes be achieved by timing the maternal doses to just after a feeding episode. Infants exposed to drugs via breast milk should be monitored for unusual signs or symptoms. Interactions between the drug received by the infant from the mother's milk and medication prescribed for the infant should also be considered, for example, when the drug given to the infant may prevent metabolism of the drug received via breast milk.
    Specialist advice is available from the UK Drugs in Lactation Advisory Service at

    Side Effects

    Exacerbation of migraine
    Mood changes e.g. depression, elation
    Fluid retention
    Sodium retention
    Weight gain
    Venous thrombosis
    Arterial thrombosis
    Cerebral thrombosis
    Coronary thrombosis
    Cholestatic jaundice
    Decreased glucose tolerance
    Breast discomfort
    Breast enlargement
    Breast secretion
    Breast pain
    Erythema nodosum
    Corneal discomfort in contact lens wearers

    In males
    Testicular atrophy
    Feminisation in men

    In females
    Vaginal bleeding on withdrawal
    Increased size of uterine fibromyomata
    Endometriosis (aggravation of)
    Increased risk of endometrial carcinoma
    Increased cervical secretion

    Hypercalcaemia and bone pain in women treated for breast cancer.


    It is strongly recommended that the UK National Poisons Information Service be consulted on cases of suspected or actual overdose where there is doubt over the degree of risk or about appropriate management.

    The following number will direct the caller to the relevant local centre (0844) 892 0111

    Information may be obtained if you have access to ToxBase the primary clinical toxicology database of the National Poisons Information Service. This is available via password on the internet ( ) or if this is unavailable at the backup site ( ).

    Reference Sources

    British National Formulary, 60th Edition (2010) Pharmaceutical Press, London.

    Drugs During Pregnancy and Lactation: Treatment Options and Risk Assessment, 2nd edition (2007) ed. Schaefer, C., Peters, P. and Miller, R. Elsevier, London.

    Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation: A Reference Guide to Fetal and Neonatal Risk, 8th edition (2008) ed. Briggs, G., Freeman, R. and Yaffe, S. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia.

    Martindale: The Complete Drug Reference, 36th edition (2009) ed. Sweetman, S. Pharmaceutical Press, London.

    Summary of Product Characteristics: Diethylstilbestrol 5mg Tablets. Teva UK Ltd. Revised November 2006.

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    Medscape UK | Univadis prescription drug monographs & interactions are based on FDB Multilex Content

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    FDB Disclaimer : FDB Multilex is intended for the use of healthcare professionals and is provided on the basis that the healthcare professionals will retain FULL and SOLE responsibility for deciding what treatment to prescribe or dispense for any particular patient or circumstance.