Olaparib (Lynparza) for the treatment of ovarian cancer

Introduction

Olaparib (trade name: Lynparza) has been approved in Germany for the treatment of high-grade epithelial ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer or primary peritoneal cancer in women. It is an option for two groups of people:

  • Women who have a BRCA mutation, are receiving platinum-based chemotherapy for the first time, and are benefiting from it.
  • Women who are having a late recurrence and benefiting from platinum-based chemotherapy (platinum-sensitive relapse).

Ovarian cancer is caused by changes (mutations) in the genes of the cells. In some women they affect the genes BRCA1 or BRCA2, which also play a role in breast cancer. The abbreviation BRCA stands for breast cancer gene.

Ovarian cancer often stays undetected for a long time because there are no – or only nonspecific – symptoms at first. When the tumor is detected, it’s often already at an advanced stage. Advanced ovarian cancer is removed surgically. This is usually followed by platinum-based chemotherapy. If there's a recurrence (relapse), doctors distinguish between two types:

  • Platinum-resistant relapse (early relapse): The cancer returns within 6 months of chemotherapy.
  • Platinum-sensitive relapse (late relapse): The cancer returns at least 6 months after chemotherapy.

Olaparib inhibits several proteins that influence tumor growth.

Application

Olaparib is available as hard capsules (50 mg olaparib) and as tablets in two different doses (100 and 150 mg). You shouldn't randomly switch between capsules and tablets.

  • Capsules: 8 capsules are taken twice a day. This is a total daily dose of 800 mg olaparib.
  • Tablets: Two 150 mg tablets of olaparib are taken twice a day. The total daily dose is 600 mg olaparib. If the dosage needs to be decreased, lower-dose tablets containing 100 mg of olaparib can be used instead.

Other treatments

For women with high-grade epithelial ovarian cancer, chemotherapy followed by watchful waiting is an option. In other words, the patient will continue to be monitored and newly occurring symptoms will be investigated. Any treatment decisions are made together with the patient. There are no fixed intervals between appointments.

Assessment

In 2019, the Institute for Quality and Efficiency (IQWiG, Germany) looked into whether olaparib has any advantages or disadvantages compared with the watchful waiting approach in women who have high-grade epithelial ovarian cancer with a BRCA mutation, are receiving platinum-based chemotherapy for the first time, and are benefiting from it.

In 2018, they had already investigated whether olaparib had any advantages or disadvantages compared with the watchful waiting approach in women with high-grade epithelial ovarian cancer who are having a platinum-sensitive relapse.

More information

This information summarizes the main results of reviews produced by the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany). The reviews were commissioned by the German Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) as part of the “early benefit assessment of medications.” On the basis of the reviews and the hearings received, the G-BA passed a resolution on the added benefit of olaparib (Lynparza).

Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany). Olaparib (ovarian, fallopian tube and peritoneal cancer) – Benefit assessment according to §35a Social Code Book V. Dossier assessment; Commission A18-36. August 31, 2018. (IQWiG reports; Volume 666).

Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany). Olaparib (Ovarian cancer) – Benefit assessment according to §35a Social Code Book V . Dossier assessment; Commission A19-56. October 11, 2019. (IQWiG reports; Volume 826).

IQWiG health information is written with the aim of helping people understand the advantages and disadvantages of the main treatment options and health care services.

Because IQWiG is a German institute, some of the information provided here is specific to the German health care system. The suitability of any of the described options in an individual case can be determined by talking to a doctor. informedhealth.org can provide support for talks with doctors and other medical professionals, but cannot replace them. We do not offer individual consultations.

Our information is based on the results of good-quality studies. It is written by a team of health care professionals, scientists and editors, and reviewed by external experts. You can find a detailed description of how our health information is produced and updated in our methods.

Comment on this page

What would you like to share with us?

We welcome any feedback and ideas. We will review, but not publish, your ratings and comments. Your information will of course be treated confidentially. Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required fields.

Please note that we do not provide individual advice on matters of health. You can read about where to find help and support in Germany in our information “How can I find self-help groups and information centers?

Updated on November 7, 2019
Next planned update: 2022

Authors/Publishers:

Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

How we keep you informed

Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter or newsfeed. You can find all of our films online on YouTube.