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PARP inhibitors (PARPis) are experimental medications that were found in early studies to be specifically effective against BRCA-related cancers. These drugs block an enzyme used by cells to mend breaks in DNA. Cancer cells in people with BRCA mutations have problems repairing DNA already, and the PARPis make that worse. Theoretically, these drugs should spare healthy cells that have at least one working copy of the BRCA gene, with limited side effects or toxicity.
The FDA has approved Lynparza (also known as olaparib) to treat ovarian, fallopian tube, and primary peritoneal cancer in women who carry mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2, and who have received three or more chemotherapy treatments. People with cancer who do not meet eligibility criteria for Lynparza can explore other options with their oncologist including participation in clinical trials that are studying PARP inhibitors or other new targeted therapies for treating hereditary cancers, including pancreatic, ovarian, breast, and prostate cancers. FORCE’s clinical trial search tool allows you to find clinical trials by location, stage of disease, and type of cancer. People with advanced cancer for which there are no standard treatments and who do not qualify for any clinical trials, can talk with their oncologist about off-label access to Lynparza.