Managing metastatic breast cancer and beyond using PARP inhibitors

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Published: 11 Jun 2019
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Dr Harold Burstein - Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, USA

Dr Harold Burstein speaks to ecancer at the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting about PARP inhibitor use in patients with rare BRCA1/2 mutations.

He believes all patients should get tested, regardless of their BRCA1/2 mutational status to identify patients who might benefit from this type of therapy.

Dr Burstein then concludes by mentioning the potential use of PARP inhibitors in those who have a BRCA1/2 mutated pancreatic cancer.

This programme has been supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Pfizer.

PARP inhibitors have proven to be an important drug in the management of metastatic breast cancer but only for a specific group of women, for women who have so-called BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. Those are rare, they account for probably no more than 5% of all cases of advanced breast cancer, but in such women these are clearly effective drugs and they are both more effective than routine chemotherapy and they are less noxious, they are less toxic than routine chemotherapy. So that means two things. One is that it’s important to use these drugs in women with metastatic BRCA-associated breast cancer but also it’s important to test all women who have metastatic breast cancer to make sure we know whether or not they harbour a deleterious BRCA1 or 2 mutation.

This class of drugs, these PARP inhibitors, are finding more roles in other tumour types as well. As I’m sure your audience will hear, at the plenary session tomorrow there’s going to be a report on the use of PARP inhibitors to treat the 6% of pancreatic cancers that are BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutated also. So this looks like a class of drugs that is going to work in a lot of hereditary cancer types.