What Is Lynparza® (olaparib)?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: June 2023

Lynparza® (olaparib) is a targeted therapy used in certain people with metastatic breast cancer that is human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 negative (HER2-) and positive or suspected to be positive for a specific BRCA mutation (gBRCA). Olaparib should be given to those who have previously received chemotherapy.1

Those with hormone receptor-positive (HR+) breast cancer should have previously received hormone therapy if your doctor determined it was appropriate.1

Olaparib may also be used in certain people with early breast cancer that is considered high risk, and is HER2- as well as positive or suspected to be positive for a specific BRCA mutation (gBRCA), to help lower the risk of cancer returning following surgery. In this scenario, chemotherapy should have been given prior to or following surgery.

What are the ingredients in Lynparza?

The active ingredient in Lynparza is olaparib.1

How does olaparib work?

Olaparib belongs to the drug class of PARP inhibitors. PARP (poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase) proteins play an important part in the life of a cell. When DNA in cells is damaged, PARPs help fix the damage, allowing the cell to live.2,3

BRCA genes also play a role in repairing damaged DNA. However, some types of breast cancer are caused by mutations in the BRCA genes. When this happens, the cancer cells rely more on the PARPs to grow and divide.2,3

PARP inhibitor drugs make it hard for cancer cells to repair DNA that has been damaged. This can cause cancer cells to die instead of multiplying.2,3

What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effects of olaparib include:1,2

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Low red blood cell, white blood cell, and platelet counts
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Heartburn
  • Changes in the way food tastes

Olaparib may also cause serious side effects, including:1,2

  • Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a type of blood cancer that develops from immature blood cells in the bone marrow. It may cause symptoms like low blood cell counts, weakness, and/or bruising easily.
  • Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a type of blood cancer that develops from myeloid cells. These are cells that normally develop into red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells. AML may cause symptoms like low blood cell counts, fatigue, weight loss, and/or fever.
  • Lung problems (pneumonitis), with symptoms like shortness of breath, fever, cough, or wheezing.

These are not all the possible side effects of olaparib. Talk to your doctor about what to expect or if you experience any changes that concern you during treatment with olaparib.

Other things to know

Avoid consuming grapefruit, grapefruit juice, Seville oranges, and Seville orange juice while taking olaparib. These products may increase the amount of olaparib in the blood, which can increase the potential for side effects.1,2

Because olaparib can lower blood cell counts, patients taking olaparib should have blood tests regularly, including before treatment with olaparib begins, and throughout treatment.1,2

Before taking olaparib, tell your doctor if you have:1,2

  • Lung or breathing problems
  • Kidney problems

Olaparib can harm an unborn baby. If you can become pregnant, you should use birth control during treatment and for some time after the last dose of olaparib. You should also not breastfeed during treatment with olaparib and for some time after the last dose. Talk to your doctor about your options for birth control and breastfeeding while taking olaparib.1,2

Before beginning treatment for breast 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.

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

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