Results from the OlympiA clinical trial shows that olaparib reduces breast cancer recurrence by 42 percent in patients with early-stage breast cancer who have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.

The results of this international trial, conducted in Australia by Breast Cancer Trials, were published in The New England Journal of Medicine and will be presented at the plenary session of the 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting on 6/6/21.

The OlympiA clinical trial was coordinated internationally by the Breast International Group and recruited 1,836 patients worldwide, including 60 women from Australia.

OlympiA found that giving olaparib tablets twice daily for a year to patients with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, after they have completed chemotherapy, increases the chances that they will remain free of invasive or metastatic cancer. This was a phase III clinical trial, which tested the efficacy and safety of olaparib tablets versus placebo as adjuvant treatment.

Professor Kelly-Anne Phillips is the Breast Cancer Trials Study Chair of the OlympiA clinical trial and Medical Oncologist at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and says the results provide a new treatment option for patients with early-stage breast cancer.

“One of the biggest fears that patients have is that their breast cancer will come back. The OlympiA clinical trial has identified a new treatment for patients with early-stage breast cancer that have a genetic mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, that may help prevent their breast cancer returning and cancer spreading, after their initial treatment has been completed,” said Professor Phillips.

“Approximately 5 percent of all breast cancer patients have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, which equates to roughly 1,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia each year. These women are typically diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age and often have a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer.

“Olaparib exploits an inherent defect in DNA repair that is present in the cancers of people with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, ensuring that cancer cells are more likely to die.”

“Our study findings are a significant step forward in the precision treatment of breast cancer and provides a new treatment option.”

“The findings also mean that genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 will likely become more routine for all women with newly diagnosed breast cancer. This will have the downstream effect of helping us to identify their relatives who also have the gene abnormality and who can therefore undertake evidence-based treatments that can prevent them getting cancer. So this is not only a step forward in breast cancer treatment, but also in helping us to prevent cancer.”

“I sincerely thank all the women who participated in this trial who have made this treatment advance possible. I also thank the clinicians and study staff across Australia who contributed to these landmark results.”

The OlympiA clinical trial results have been published in The New England Journal of Medicine and are available here:

For more information about Breast Cancer Trials, visit:


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