Treatment Name: Olaparib (Lynparza®)
How does olaparib work?
Olaparib inhibits a family of enzymes called PARP (poly ADP ribose polymerase). When the PARP enzymes are inhibited, cell DNA is severely damaged. In breast cancer cells that have a BRCA mutation (pronounced "Bracka"), the cancer cell is unable to fix the damage and it dies. However, other healthy cells that have a normally functioning BRCA gene will able to fix the damage to the DNA and they will not be affected by olaparib. Olaparib can only be given to breast cancer patients who have proven or suspected BRCA mutations.
Goals of therapy:
Olaparib is an oral chemotherapy drug taken to shrink tumors and decrease symptoms from breast cancer but is not commonly given with the goal of cure.
- Usual starting dose: 300 mg oral (two 150 mg tablets) by mouth twice daily
Olaparib must be dispensed by a specialty pharmacy and is taken at home.
Treatment is continued until the drug no longer works or unacceptable side effects are experienced.
Note: Individual doses may vary based upon your Doctor's recommendation, or drug availability.
In clinical studies, the most commonly reported olaparib side effects are shown here.
- Nausea, (58%)
- Low red blood cells [anemia], (40%)
- Vomiting, (30%)
- Fatigue, (29%)
- Low white blood cells [neutropenia], (27%)
- Diarrhea, (21%)
- Headache, (20%)
- Cough, (17%)
- Decreased appetite, (16%)
- Fever, (14%)
- Liver injury, (9-11%)
- Redness, swelling, and blisters on palms of hands and soles of feet, (1%)
On average, 6% of breast cancer patients in the study discontinued treatment due to unacceptable side effects.
How often is monitoring needed?
Labs (blood tests) may be checked before treatment and periodically during treatment. Labs often include: Complete Blood Count (CBC), Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP), plus any others your doctor may order.
How often is imaging needed?
Imaging may be checked before treatment then approximately every 6 to 12 weeks. Imaging may include: X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computerized tomography (CT) scans.
How might blood test results/imaging affect treatment?
Depending upon the results, your doctor may advise to continue olaparib as planned, reduce your dose, temporarily stop treatment until the side effect goes away, or switch to a different therapy.
- A large number of patients experience nausea while taking olaparib, although the severity is usually mild. Typically, anti-nausea medications do not need to be taken prior to each olaparib dose but patients should have a prescription for an anti-nausea medication to use if needed
- Olaparib can commonly cause low red and white blood cells, low platelets, and in very rare cases it can lead to the development of bone marrow disorders such as myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). If you are experiencing unusual bruising or bleeding, severe fatigue and shortness of breath, or frequent infections and fevers, it may be a sign of low blood counts from olaparib or a more serious bone marrow disorder
- A pharmacist should ALWAYS review your medication list to ensure that drug interactions are prevented or managed appropriately
- Clinical trials may exist for breast cancer. Ask your doctor if any studies are currently enrolling in your area. If not, go to clinicaltrials.gov to search for other centers offering study medications
Patient Assistance & Co-payment Coverage
Patients under the age of 65 years, or those with private insurance plans:
If you have insurance and are looking for patient assistance or copay assistance for Olaparib (Lynparza®), we have provided links that may help.
Visit our Patient Assistance page and click the links to various patient assistance programs for help paying for Olaparib (Lynparza®). Depending upon your income, they may be able to help cover the cost of:
For Branded medications (may be available for generic medications too), check with the manufacturer to determine if a co-pay card is offered and if it could reduce your monthly copay.
- If you are uninsured, check with the manufacturer to determine if you are eligible to receive medication at no cost.
Medicare and Medicaid patients (Patients 65 years or older):
The clinic providing treatment will likely pre-authorize medications and immune therapies such as Olaparib (Lynparza®) and are the best source to help you understand drug cost.
- Ask to speak with a patient assistance technician or financial counselor at the clinic or hospital administering this therapy.
What is Emotional Wellness?
Emotional wellness is having a positive outlook balanced with a realistic understanding of current life events. This requires both an awareness and acceptance of your emotions. It is with this knowledge that you can develop a plan to take the necessary actions to positively impact your life.
Emotional wellness uses an ongoing process to continually reflect on the stressors of life in a constructive manner to move forward and create happiness.
Because emotional wellness is deeply connected with physical, social, and spiritual wellness, pursuing it often becomes particularly difficult in times of major illness. Despite this difficulty, working toward emotional wellness has been connected to improved treatment outcomes and a higher likelihood of achieving goals of therapy.
Learn more about pursuing emotional wellness while receiving treatment with Olaparib (Lynparza®)