Quality of life for people with early-stage breast cancer: experiences from the OlympiA trial


The OlympiA study looked at the usefulness of the oral medication olaparib (Lynparza) as a maintenance therapy after surgery and chemotherapy for early-stage HER2-negative breast cancer patients with an inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. In an extension of the OlympiA study, participants describe their experience with side effects from olaparib on their quality of life.

Olaparib is one of several PARP inhibitors. PARP inhibitors were initially approved by the FDA to treat advanced breast cancer in patients with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. The OlympiA Study looked instead at patients with early-stage breast cancer who were treated after chemotherapy with olaparib. Early positive results from OlympiA were presented at the June 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual conference. Based on these results, the FDA approved olaparib in March 2022 as adjuvant treatment for people with an inherited BRCA mutation who have been diagnosed with early-stage HER2-negative breast cancer and are at high risk for recurrence.

Some of the most common chemotherapy side effects include nausea and vomiting, fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, hair loss, chemobrain (forgetfulness or difficulty concentrating), changes in appetite and/or weight and lymphedema (chronic painful swelling). Most patients recover from the effects of chemotherapy within one to two years after treatment. It is important to know whether additional treatment or maintenance therapy, such as olaparib, worsens or delays recovery.

Analysis of experiences of patients in the OlympiA study showed that the most common side effects of those who received olaparib was nausea and fatigue. Importantly, patient-reported outcomes after olaparib maintenance therapy suggest that it does not worsen side effects related to chemotherapy.

Read more in our XRAY review.

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