Lynparza

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Lynparza (chemical name: olaparib) is used to treat metastatic HER2-negative breast cancer with an inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation that has previously been treated with chemotherapy.

Lynparza is a pill taken by mouth. The recommended starting dose of Lynparza is 300 mg taken twice per day, with or without food.

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How Lynparza works

Most inherited cases of breast cancer are associated with two gene mutations: BRCA1 (BReast CAncer gene one) and BRCA2 (BReast CAncer gene two). Women with a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene have up to a 72% risk of developing breast cancer by age 80. Their risk of ovarian cancer also is higher than average. Men with a BRCA gene mutation have a higher risk of both breast and prostate cancer.

DNA carries genetic information in both healthy cells and cancer cells. Cells can develop DNA damage spontaneously or from exposure to specific things in the environment (too much sun, for example) that make DNA damage more likely to happen. But cells can detect and repair damage to DNA. When DNA is damaged in a healthy cell and the damage isn't fixed, that cell can become cancerous. The function of the BRCA genes is to keep breast cells growing normally and prevent any cancer growth. But if there is a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, it increases the risk of breast and other cancers because these gene mutations interfere with cells' ability to repair damaged DNA.

The poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) enzyme fixes DNA damage in both healthy and cancer cells. Research has shown that a medicine like Lynparza, which interferes with (inhibits) the PARP enzyme, makes it even harder for cancer cells with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation to fix DNA damage. This makes it harder for the cancer cells to survive. In other words, a PARP inhibitor makes some cancer cells less likely to survive their DNA damage.

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Is Lynparza right for you?

Lynparza is used to treat metastatic HER2-negative breast cancer with an inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation that has previously been treated chemotherapy.

Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread to parts of the body away from the breast, such as the bones or liver.

You are substantially more likely to have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation if:

  • You have blood relatives (grandmothers, mother, sisters, aunts) on either your mother's or father's side of the family who had breast cancer diagnosed before age 50.
  • There is both breast and ovarian cancer on the same side of the family or in a single individual.
  • You have a relative(s) with triple-negative breast cancer.
  • There are other cancers in your family in addition to breast, such as prostate, melanoma, pancreatic, stomach, uterine, thyroid, colon, and/or sarcoma.
  • Women in your family have had cancer in both breasts.
  • You are of Ashkenazi Jewish (Eastern European) heritage.
  • You are African American and have been diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35 or younger.
  • A man in your family has had breast cancer.
  • There is a known abnormal breast cancer gene in your family.

A genetic test can determine whether you have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. A genetic test involves giving a blood or saliva sample that is analyzed to pick up any abnormalities in these genes.

Learn more about Genetic Testing.

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What to expect when taking Lynparza

There are certain medicines, supplements, and foods you should not take or eat if you are taking Lynparza:

  • You should not take a type of medicine called a strong CYP3A inhibitor because it increases the effects of Lynparza. This class of medicines includes antifungal medicines such as Nizoral (chemical name: ketoconazole).
  • You should not take a type of medicine called a strong or moderate CYP3A inducer because it decreases the effects of Lynparza. This class of medicines includes Rifamate (chemical name: rifampin), an antibiotic used to treat tuberculosis.
  • You should not eat grapefruit or Seville oranges, or drink grapefruit juice or Seville orange juice, because they can increase the effects of Lynparza.

It’s important to know that women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant should not take Lynparza. Lynparza can harm the developing fetus. It’s also important that you don’t get pregnant while taking Lynparza; if there is any chance you can become pregnant, you must use effective birth control while you’re taking Lynparza and for at least 6 months after your last dose.

Also, women who are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed shouldn’t take Lynparza. Together, you and your doctor will decide if you should take Lynparza or breastfeed.

Learn more about Treatment for Breast Cancer During Pregnancy.

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Paying for Lynparza

If your doctor prescribes Lynparza and you have problems getting it covered by insurance or have problems paying for the treatment, AstraZeneca, the company that makes Lynparza, may be able to help through the AZ&Me Prescription Savings Program. For more information, visit the AZ&Me Prescription Savings Program or call 1-800-292-6363.

Also, the AstraZeneca Access 360 program connects patients to affordability programs and streamlines access and reimbursement for AstraZeneca medicines. Reimbursement counselors can help with prior authorization support, the reimbursement process, refer patients to assistance programs, and more. To learn more, call 1-844-275-2360 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST or visit www.MyAccess360.com.

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Lynparza side effects

The most common side effects of Lynparza are:

Lynparza also may cause serious side effects, including:

  • Myelodysplastic syndrome, a bone marrow failure disorder, which means your body can no longer make enough healthy blood cells
  • Acute myeloid leukemia, a type of blood cancer

    While low red and white blood cell counts are common side effects of Lynparza, they also can be symptoms of myelodysplastic syndrome or acute myeloid leukemia. Tell your doctor right away if you have:
    • weakness
    • fever
    • blood in your urine or stool
    • extreme tiredness
    • weight loss
    • frequent infections
    • shortness of breath
    • bruising or bleeding more easily
    Your doctor will do blood tests to check your blood cell counts every month while you are being treated with Lynparza or even weekly if you have low blood cell counts that last a long time.
  • Lung inflammation: While upper respiratory infections are a common side effect of Lynparza, tell your doctor right away if you have any new or worsening symptoms of lung problems, including:
    • shortness of breath
    • fever
    • coughing
    • wheezing

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References:

  1. Lynparza (olaparib) prescribing information. AstraZeneca. Wilmington, DE. 2018. Available at: https://www.azpicentral.com/lynparza_tb/lynparza_tb.pdf.

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