This blog will cover topics of interest that affect our community. Unless otherwise stated, the blog articles will be written by Sue Friedman, Executive Director of FORCE.

| More

OlympiA: A Landmark Breast Cancer PARP Inhibitor Clinical Trial

March 3, 2016

by Sue Friedman

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 10.22.24 AMGreat progress has been made since the identification of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and their link to causing breast, ovarian, pancreatic and other cancers. Over the last two decades, researchers have studied how BRCA mutations cause cancer in an effort to develop new treatments. In December 2014, Lynparza, (olaparib), a type of drug known as a PARP inhibitor, was approved as the first targeted agent to treat BRCA-associated cancers for women who have progressed after three prior lines of therapy.

Researchers are now using this knowledge to test olaparib in people with BRCA mutations who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Until now the main focus has been studying PARP inhibitors in people with advanced or metastatic cancer. The OlympiA trial is the first major study to test a targeted therapy for people with BRCA mutation-associated breast cancer in the adjuvant setting (after surgery) for people with earlier-stage (stage 2 or stage 3) cancers. You can learn more about this study by watching this webinar by Dr. Charles Geyer, one of the principle investigators for the study.

BRCA 1/2 Mutations

Approximately 5% of breast cancers are associated with inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Women with triple-negative breast cancer, breast cancer diagnosed before age 50, a strong family history of cancer, men with breast cancer, and people who are of Eastern European Jewish descent are more likely to have a BRCA mutation. The majority of breast cancers that develop in people with BRCA1 mutations are triple-negative breast cancers (70%), while those with mutations in the BRCA2 gene are more likely to develop estrogen receptor–positive (also known as ER+) breast cancer (70%). Until recently, very few clinical trials have evaluated potential new therapies specifically in patients with BRCA mutations; most of the studies in breast cancer have focused on women with metastatic disease. OlympiA is the first PARP inhibitor for earlier-stage breast cancer.

Olaparib Clinical Trials in Breast Cancer

Several PARP inhibitors are in development, and the FDA approved olaparib in December 2014 to treat women with advanced ovarian cancer with deleterious germline mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2. Olaparib has also shown promise in patients with BRCA mutations who have recurrent metastatic breast cancer, although not enough data yet exists to seek approval from the FDA. Studies of PARP inhibitors in metastatic breast cancer are ongoing.

OlympiA is a phase III clinical trial studying the safety and effectiveness of olaparib for women with a BRCA mutation after they have completed standard therapy. The study is open to patients who have been diagnosed with stage 2 or stage 3 breast cancer who are considered curable but at high risk for recurrence. OlympiA participants are required to complete all standard treatments, including chemotherapy and surgery and, if needed, radiation therapy. Patients can receive either neoadjuvant or adjuvant chemotherapy. After chemotherapy has been completed, participants who enroll in OlympiA will be randomized to receive either olaparib or a placebo for a year after standard treatment. Because the study begins after chemotherapy ends—a time when patients do not typically receive additional therapy—comparing Lynparza to a placebo is appropriate. Patients will be followed closely for disease recurrence and new cancers for approximately 10 years to determine the efficacy of adjuvant treatment with olaparib on invasive disease-free survival.

The trial is actively recruiting eligible women and men with an inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation who have been diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer or hormone sensitive/Her2 negative breast cancer. Since only women and men with BRCA mutations can participate, recruiting the 1,500 patients required to complete the study will be challenging. But this effort is necessary before these new drugs can be used more widely for people with BRCA-associated breast cancer. So it’s important to spread the word about the study among patients with BRCA mutations who are newly diagnosed with, or in treatment for breast cancer. The trial is being conducted in 23 countries, including 100s of sites in the United States. For information regarding US sites contact NRG Oncology Clinical Coordinating Department 1-800-477-7227.

The only path to improving health outcomes among people with hereditary cancer risk is through completion of research studies and clinical trials.FORCE has a commitment to promoting research that will provide better options for our community. We testified to the FDA in favor of Lynparza approval in ovarian cancer. Progress takes research and research takes patients! The move to study PARP inhibitors in earlier-stage, high-risk cancers indicates a large and important step towards improving care and outcomes for people with hereditary cancers. If this study is successful and shows survival benefit for patients, it could open up access to targeted therapy for thousands of people with breast cancer due to a BRCA mutation. It also provides a path for more targeted therapy clinical trials for hereditary cancers. I want to encourage the entire community to join this global effort and reach out to educate other patients who meet the eligibility criteria about the landmark OlympiA study. For information regarding US sites contact NRG Oncology Clinical Coordinating Department 1-800-477-7227. Visit our clinical research page for other prevention, detection, and treatment research studies enrolling patients.

See this quick-guide for exclusion and inclusion criteria.

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 11.15.29 PM


NIH Clinical Trials Registry: Identfier: NCT02032823.
OncLive: Olaparib Studies Put Focus on BRCA-Positive Breast Cancers

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. […] OlympiA: The first clinical trial for people with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation who have breast cancer that has not advanced to stage 4; people who have been recently diagnosed with stage 2 or stage 3 breast cancer may be eligible. The study is evaluating whether adding the PARP inhibitor olaparib after adjuvant or neoadjuvant treatment is safe and improves outcomes. […]

  2. Robin says:

    The “Schema” graphic gives different eligibility requirements than the video does. The video is correct.

  3. I have been asked by my oncologist to have a blood test stage one of the Olympia trial.
    I had breast cancer aged 36 years. Found lump in other breast in January this year. Had implant removed, diseased breast removed and 28 lymph glands. Completed 3 weeks of FEC treatment, one more session of Deoxacl treatment left to be followed by radiotherapy.
    I have 4 siblings, a daughter and five granddaughters. If positive, will they be monitored closely. My daughter is 44, my sisters are 66, 56, 54 and 52. My sister Hazel aged 66 had a breast removed 5 years ago but no treatment followed. My granddaughters are 7, 9, 13, 19 and 26 years old. I think I am doing the right thing.
    Regards Mrs. Patricia Lunt aged 69 years.

Leave a Reply

Connect with others.

Call our Helpline

Our helpline offers peer support for people concerned about hereditary cancer. All calls are confidential. Call any time.

Join a Local Group

FORCE has outreach groups throughout the United States and in Essex, United Kingdom that meet periodically to offer peer support, and share resources.

FORCE:Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered