“Landmark results” in key ovarian cancer research

23 October 2018

Results from a Phase III trial have demonstrated that lynparza (olaparib) therapy could cut the risk of disease progression or death by 70% in patients with newly-diagnosed, advanced BRCA mutated ovarian cancer.

Dr Susana Banerjee, SOLO-1 Co-author and Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust said: “These landmark results represent a shift in how we should treat women with advanced BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer in the future.”

Data from SOLO-1, a trial by Astra Zeneca and MSD, was presented at the Presidential Symposium of the ESMO 2018 Congress (European Society for Medical Oncology) in Munich, Germany and published simultaneously online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Sixty per cent of patients receiving olaparib remained progression-free at three years compared to 27% on placebo following platinum-based chemotherapy. Olaparib is the only PARP inhibitor to demonstrate an improvement in progression free survival as 1st-line maintenance treatment for advanced ovarian cancer.

Olaparib is not currently indicated as a maintenance treatment for patients with newly diagnosed, advanced BRCA ovarian cancer following 1st-line chemotherapy. Olaparib is indicated as monotherapy for the maintenance treatment of adult patients with platinum-sensitive relapsed high-grade epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer who are in response (complete or partial) to platinum-based chemotherapy.

Results of the trial confirm the statistically-significant and clinically-meaningful improvement in progression-free survival (PFS) for olaparib compared to placebo, reducing the risk of disease progression or death by 70%. At 41 months of follow-up, the median PFS for patients treated with olaparib was not reached compared to 13.8 months for patients treated with placebo. Of those receiving olaparib, 60% remained progression-free at 36 months compared to 27% of women in the placebo arm.

Dr Banerjee added: “For the first time when using a PARP inhibitor, we see a significant and clinically meaningful improvement in progression-free survival for these women, which is maintained after treatment is stopped at two years. These findings emphasise the importance of testing for BRCA mutations in women with ovarian cancer.”

Ovarian cancer is a serious and life-threatening condition with over 4,000 women dying from the disease annually in the UK. The UK has the worst five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer in Europe. Six out of 10 cases of ovarian cancer in England are diagnosed at an advanced stage3 and around 70% of these women will relapse within the first three years after initial treatment with surgery and chemotherapy. Between 5-15 per cent of ovarian cancers are caused by faulty genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, which can be identified via genetic testing upon referral by a healthcare professional.