A clinical trial of olaparib has been shown to help keep certain early-stage, hard-to-treat breast cancers at bay after initial treatment in promising early findings.
The results were so promising they were published early, ahead of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Olaparib, sold under the name Lynparza, was found to help breast cancer patients with harmful mutations have a longer disease-free survival after their cancers had been treated with standard surgery and chemotherapy.
It was studied in patients with BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, which can not only predispose people to breast cancer if they don’t work properly, but who did not have a gene flaw that can be targeted by the drug Herceptin.
Most patients in the study also had tumours not fuelled by oestrogen or progesterone. Triple negative breast cancers are not fuelled by these two hormones nor by the gene Herceptin targets.
The new study tested Lynparza in 1836 women and men with early-stage disease who were given the drug or placebo pills for one year after surgery and chemotherapy. About 82% of participants had triple-negative breast cancer.
Independent monitors advised releasing the results after observing clear benefit from Lynparza. After three years, 86% of patients on it were alive without cancer recurrence compared to 77% in the placebo group.
The results suggest more patients should get their tumours tested for BRCA mutations to help guide treatment decisions, said ASCO president Dr Lori Pierce, a cancer radiation specialist at the University of Michigan.
Serious side effects were rare, and other less serious side effects included anaemia, fatigue and blood cell count abnormalities.
Lynparza, which is marketed by AstraZeneca and Merck, is already sold in the United States and elsewhere for treating metastatic breast cancers and for treating certain cancers of the ovaries, prostate and pancreas. It costs roughly US$14 000 per month, though what patients pay out of pocket varies depending on income, insurance and other factors.
Source: Medical Xpress