Question asked by: 
Date asked: 
Nov 2018

PARP inhibitor drugs are now being used for women who do not carry a BRCA gene mutation.  Can you explain what the benefits to these women are?

What are the benefits of PARP inhibitors for women without a BRCA mutation?
Response by Dr Rachel O'Donnell, Guest Expert, Being Together Newcastle

It was recognised, through research, that PARP inhibitors used for women with a BRCA mutation showed benefit and their survival was longer.

Further research began to show that women without a BRCA mutation also showed benefit from these drugs.   It is now recognised that 50% of women without a BRCA mutation may benefit from PARP inhibitors.

Women who are BRCA negative are now eligible to receive a PARP inhibitor after two round of chemotherapy, providing they meet the various criteria for the use these drugs.

PARP inhibitors are sometimes called chemotherapy but they are not always delivered in the traditional manner (injected into your veins). Some are available in tablet form and it depends on which drug you are eligible for, as to how it’s given.

Typically traditional chemotherapy is given followed by a PARP inhibitor as a maintenance treatment afterwards.

That can go on for between six and eighteen cycles or doses. It’s a long term treatment but it is better tolerated as women don’t tend to have the huge side effects that are experienced by some women on traditional chemotherapy.

We know that maintenance treatment is really important in giving better outcomes for women.