Find out what olaparib is, how you have it and other important information about taking this drug.
What is it
Olaparib is also called by its brand name Lynparza. It is a treatment for some types of ovarian cancer that have come back after treatment. It is for people who
- have a change in a gene called BRCA
- have had a type of chemotherapy called platinum
You may also have it as part of a clinical trial for other cancers.
How it works
PARP is short for Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase. It is a protein that helps damaged cells to repair themselves. Olaparib stops PARP working.
Some cancer cells rely on PARP to keep their DNA healthy. This includes cancer cells with a change in the BRCA gene. So, when olaparib stops PARP from repairing DNA damage, the cancer cells die.
This type of drug is called a cancer growth blocker.
How you have it
Olaparib comes as both capsules and tablets. You usually take them two times a day, 12 hours apart. How you take them depends on whether you are taking capsules or tablets.
Capsules - you take eight capsules twice a day. You can't eat at the same time. This means that after taking olaparib you should wait at least 2 hours before you eat again. And if you are taking olaparib after eating, you should wait at least 1 hour before you take it.
Tablets - you take two tablets twice a day. There are no food restrictions with the tablets.
Taking your tablets or capsules
You should take the right dose, not more or less.
Never stop taking a cancer drug without talking to your specialist first.
When you have it
You usually carry on taking olaparib for as long as it works.
Tests during treatment
You have blood tests before and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.
Other medicines, foods and drink
Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.
Pregnancy and contraception
This drug may harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment with this drug and for at least a month afterwards.
Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.
Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through into your breast milk.
You are more at risk of developing a blood clot during treatment. Drink plenty of fluids and keep moving to help prevent clots.
Treatment for other conditions
Always tell other doctors, nurses, pharmacists or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.
Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for at least 6 months afterwards.
In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and shingles vaccine (Zostavax).
- have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
- have the flu vaccine (as an injection)
- be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections
Avoid close contact with people who’ve recently had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines) such as oral polio or the typhoid vaccine.
This also includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s poo for up to 2 weeks and could make you ill. So, avoid changing their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination if possible. Or wear disposable gloves and wash your hands well afterwards.
You should also avoid close contact with children who have had the flu vaccine nasal spray if your immune system is severely weakened.
More information about this treatment
For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.
You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.