Breast cancer recurrence is a strong concern of patients after their initial treatment ends. There may be some good news on this front for those with mutations that make them higher-risk.

British drug manufacturer AstraZeneca shared promising results of the OlympiA Phase III trial on its cancer drug Lynparza in The New England Journal of Medicine on June 3rd. The trial found that the drug sharply lowered the risk of recurrence and death in early stage high-risk HER2-negative breast cancer patients with germline BRCA mutations.


Andrew Tutt, chair of the OlympiA trial steering committee and professor of oncology at The Institute of Cancer Research, London and Kings College London, says this means Lynparza could be used as a followup to standard treatment to help keep recurrence at bay.

He says, “We are thrilled that our global academic and industry partnership in OlympiA has been able to help identify a possible new treatment option for patients with early-stage breast cancer and who have inherited mutations in their BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Patients with early-stage breast cancer who have inherited BRCA mutations are typically diagnosed at a younger age compared to those without such a mutation.”

Lynparza works by preventing PARP proteins from repairing damaged cancer cells after chemotherapy. The trial, consisting of 1,836 patients who had completed surgery and chemotherapy, split participants up into a group that got the drug and a group that got a placebo. The Lynparza group saw a 42% reduction in their risk of a recurrence, a second cancer, or death. In addition, 85.9% of the patients were still alive and free from another bout with cancer after three years, compared with 77.1% of the placebo group.


The drug was also found to lower the risk of distance disease recurrence or death by 43%.

Dave Fredrickson, Executive Vice President of AstraZeneca’s Oncology Business Unit, says, “This is the first time that any medicine targeting a BRCA mutation has demonstrated the potential to change the course of early-stage breast cancer and offer hope for a cure. By providing a treatment which significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer returning in these high-risk patients, we hope Lynparza will set a new benchmark demonstrating sustained clinical benefit.”

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Due to the findings, the study notes that it may be helpful to do more testing for BRCA mutations in breast cancer patients. Typically, the mutations are found in about 5% of those diagnosed with breast cancer.

Lynparza is already used as a maintenance or active treatment for advanced breast and ovarian cancer patients following chemotherapy.


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