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.

Learn more

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).