Lynparza® (olaparib)

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Lynparza® (olaparib) for certain forms of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). This means a person’s cancer has spread to other parts of their body and has not responded to surgery or drugs that lower testosterone.1,2

Olaparib is also used for the treatment of certain kinds of breast, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers.1

Prostate cancer with HRR gene mutations

Specifically, olaparib is for adults whose cancer cells have changes (mutations) in genes called HRR (homologous recombination repair) genes. Your doctor will run a genetic test to determine if your cancer falls into this category. Some examples of HRR genes include genes called BRCA1, BRCA2, and ATM.1,2

In order to take olaparib, people with prostate cancer must have previously tried taking either enzalutamide or abiraterone – other drugs used to treat certain forms of prostate cancer. If a person’s cancer has progressed while taking these drugs, and they have an HRR gene mutation, they may be able to take olaparib.2

In 2023, the FDA approved olaparib with abiraterone and prednisone (or prednisolone) for BRCA-mutated metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.3

What are the ingredients in Lynparza?

The active ingredient in Lynparza is olaparib.1

How does olaparib work?

HRR genes are involved in repairing DNA and allowing cells to continue to grow and divide. When these genes mutate, uncontrolled cell growth and cancer may occur. When cancer cells continue to grow and divide without being stopped, a person’s cancer can spread.2

PARP (poly ADP-ribose polymerase) is a protein involved in this DNA replication and cell growth process. PARP inhibitors block this protein. This results in unrepaired damage to certain cells.1

Some of these cells include prostate cancer cells with HRR gene mutations. The damage is so severe that these cancer cells may eventually die. Because olaparib targets these cells so specifically, it may be possible to slow or stop the spread of prostate cancer.1,2

What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effects of olaparib include:1,3

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Cough or shortness of breath
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Low blood cell counts including red blood cells (anemia), certain white blood cells (can increase the risk of infection), and platelets (can increase the risk of bleeding and bruising)
  • Changes in sense of taste
  • Fatigue, or extreme tiredness

These are not all the possible side effects of olaparib. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when taking olaparib. You also should call your doctor if you have any changes that concern you when taking olaparib.

Other things to know

As with other drugs, there are less common but serious side effects that can occur with olaparib. Olaparib may cause issues with your bone marrow. This includes a potential increased risk of developing blood cancers known as myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). If you notice any of these signs of bone marrow issues, contact your doctor immediately:1

  • Severe weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Easy bruising
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent infections

Olaparib may increase your risk of developing inflammation in your lungs. Your doctor will monitor you for this problem and may stop treatment if needed. If you have shortness of breath, cough, wheezing, or fever, contact your doctor as soon as possible. Since olaparib can impact blood cell levels, your doctor will monitor these as well.1

Olaparib may harm an unborn baby. Because of this, if you have a partner who can become pregnant, you should use effective birth control methods while taking olaparib and for a period of time after stopping the drug. Discuss appropriate birth control methods with your doctor.1

Olaparib can increase your risk of blood clots, including blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary embolism). Signs of a blood clot that need immediate medical attention include:1

  • Swelling or pain in a leg or arm
  • Chest pain
  • Changes in breathing
  • Fast heartbeat

Talk to your doctor

Before starting olaparib for prostate cancer, tell your doctor if you:1

Before beginning treatment for prostate cancer, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.

Your doctor will determine the appropriate dosage and administration schedule for you. It is important to follow this schedule exactly as instructed, and not to stop taking olaparib or any other prescribed medicines on your own. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions regarding olaparib.

For more information, read the full prescribing information of olaparib.

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