Survival results for the global OlympiA breast cancer treatment clinical trial will be presented at a plenary session of the European Society of Medical Oncology this week.

OlympiA was led in Australia by Peter Mac oncologist Professor Kelly-Anne Phillips and coordinated nationally by Breast Cancer Trials.

The trial found that, for women who carry inherited abnormalities in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 cancer genes, the addition of the drug Olaparib for 12 months after all standard anti-cancer therapy resulted in a 32% reduction in breast cancer death.

All patients had potentially curable cancers that had not spread beyond the breast or under the arm at the time of diagnosis.

Professor Phillips says these are important results for patients with potentially curable breast cancer.

“Approximately 5% of patients diagnosed with breast cancer have an underlying inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation. This equates to roughly 1,000 women in Australia each year diagnosed with breast cancer. Typically, these women are diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age and may have a more aggressive form of the disease,” Professor Phillips said.

“It is important to genetically test women with breast cancer so that those found to have these inherited gene abnormalities can be offered Olaparib. More widespread genetic testing of breast cancer patients will also help to identify their healthy relatives who have inherited the same gene abnormality and who can be then offered treatments that prevent cancer or detect it early.”  

“The study also showed that overall quality of life was not adversely affected by Olaparib compared with the placebo, so it is a generally well-tolerated treatment despite being a 12-month course.”

 “These are significant and practice-changing results that provide a new treatment option for these patients. I sincerely thank all of our trial participants and participating institutions throughout Australia,”