Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial of olaparib with chemotherapy for advanced ovarian cancer
This trial looked at having olaparib in combination with chemotherapy followed by olaparib on its own.
It was for women with the most common type of ovarian cancer (
This trial closed in 2010. These results were published in 2015.
More about this trial
If ovarian cancer comes back after chemotherapy, you might have more chemotherapy. If your cancer had responded to a platinum drug the first time, you might have a platinum drug again.
This trial was for women who had ovarian cancer that had responded to a platinum drug before. Some of the women taking part also had a drug called olaparib.
Every cell contains DNA. This is the genetic information that controls how cells behave. If DNA becomes damaged (as in cancer cells), a protein called PARP-1 helps to repair it. Olaparib stops PARP-1 from working. If PARP-1 doesn’t work, cancer cells can’t repair themselves and they die.
The aims of the trial were to:
- see if a combination of olaparib and chemotherapy followed by olaparib on its own worked better than chemotherapy alone for women with advanced ovarian cancer
- learn more about the side effects of having olaparib and chemotherapy together
Summary of results
The trial team found that women who had olaparib and chemotherapy lived longer without a sign of their cancer than women who had chemotherapy only.
About this trial
This was a phase 2 trial. It was a randomised trial. 162 women agreed to take part. Before starting treatment 6 women decided not to continue in the trial. The remaining 156 women were put into 2 groups:
- 81 had olaparib with paclitaxel and carboplatin followed by olaparib on its own
- 75 had paclitaxel and carboplatin
After completing their chemotherapy the women who had taken olaparib continued taking it.
The trial team looked at the
- just under 10 months (9.8 months) for women who had olaparib and chemotherapy followed by olaparib on its own
- 7½ months for women who had chemotherapy only
They found it was:
- just over a year (12.2 months) for women who had olaparib and chemotherapy
- just over 9½ months for women who had chemotherapy only
After a median follow up just under 34 months (33.4) in the olaparib and chemotherapy group and of just over 32 months (32.2) for the chemotherapy group, the team looked at the length of time the women lived (their overall survival). They found there was no significant difference between the 2 groups.
BRCA gene mutation
The team looked at a subgroup of women whose ovarian cancer had a BRCA gene change (
In the olaparib and chemotherapy group, 20 women had a BRCA change.
In the chemotherapy only group, 21 women had a BRCA change.
The team found that the average length of time these women lived without sign of cancer was significantly better than those who didn’t have a BRCA change.
But their overall survival wasn’t any better.
About 10 out of every 100 (10%) of the women who had olaparib with chemotherapy had more side effects than women who had chemotherapy only.
The most common side effects were:
- hair loss
- feeling sick
- a drop in white blood cells
- numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
The team concluded that:
- olaparib with paclitaxel and carboplatin followed by continuing with olaparib worked better than paclitaxel and carboplatin only
- this combination was acceptable with side effects that can be well controlled
- women whose ovarian cancer had a BRCA gene change seemed to have the greatest benefit
Where this information comes from
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
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