Care During Chemotherapy and Beyond


(oh LAP a rib)

Trade name: Lynparza™

Olaparib is the generic for the trade chemotherapy drug Lynparza™. In some cases, health care professionals may use the trade name Lynparza™ when referring to the generic drug name olaparib.

Drug type: Olaparib is a targeted therapy. It is poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitor - (For more detail, see "How this drug works," below.)

What Olaparib Is Used For:

  • Advanced ovarian cancer (with deleterious germline BRCA mutated (gBRCAm) as detected by an FDA-approved test) who have been treated with three or more prior lines of chemotherapy.
  • HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer (with deleterious or suspected gBRCAm), who have been treated with chemotherapy.

Note: If a drug has been approved for one use, physicians may elect to use this same drug for other problems if they believe it may be helpful).

How Olaparib Is Given:

  • Olaparib is a pill, taken by mouth, twice daily. It can be taken with or without food.
  • Take olaparib exactly as prescribed.
  • Swallow olaparib capsules whole. Do not crush, dissolve or open capsules.
  • Do not take olaparib capsules if they look damaged or show signs of leakage.
  • Do not change your dose or stop olaparib unless your health care provider tells you to.
  • If you miss a dose, take your next dose at your usual scheduled time. Do not take an extra dose to make up for a missed dose.
  • If you take too much olaparib, call your health care provider right away and go to the emergency room.
  • Avoid grapefruit juice and Seville oranges during treatment with olaparib. Grapefruit and Seville oranges may increase the level of olaparib in your blood.
  • Let your doctor know if you are starting any new medications as some common medications (i.e. ciprofloxacin, fluconazole, etc) interact with olaparib.

The amount of olaparib that you will receive depends on many factors, your general health or other health problems, and the type of side effects that you may have.

Side Effects:

Important things to remember about the side effects of olaparib:

  • Most people do not experience all of the side effects listed.
  • Side effects are often predictable in terms of their onset and duration.
  • There are many options to help minimize or prevent side effects.
  • There is no relationship between the presence or severity of side effects and the effectiveness of the medication.

The following side effects are common (occurring in greater than 30%) for patients taking olaparib:

These side effects are less common side effects (occurring in about 10-29%) of patients receiving olaparib:

Not all side effects are listed above. Some that are rare (occurring in less than 10% of patients) are not listed here. However, you should always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.

When to contact your doctor or health care provider:

Contact your health care provider immediately, day or night, and go to the emergency room, if you should experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.4° F (38°C or higher, chills)
  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Trouble breathing, shortness of breath, or a cough that is new or worse.

The following symptoms require medical attention, but are not an emergency. Contact your health care provider within 24 hours of noticing any of the following:

  • Diarrhea (4-6 episodes in a 24-hour period).
  • Nausea (interferes with ability to eat and unrelieved with prescribed medication).
  • Vomiting (vomiting more than 4-5 times in a 24 hour period).
  • Unable to eat or drink for 24 hours or have signs of dehydration: tiredness, thirst, dry mouth, dark and decrease amount of urine, or dizziness.
  • Burning or pain with urination.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Bleed or bruise more easily than normal, blood in your urine or stools.
  • Back pain, muscle or joint pain.
  • Dizziness.
  • Headache.
  • Stomach pain or heartburn.
  • Nose or throat irritation.
  • Feeling tired or weak.

Always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.


  • Before starting olaparib treatment, make sure you tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking (including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins, herbal remedies, etc.).
  • Do not receive any kind of immunization or vaccination without your doctor's approval while taking olaparib.
  • Inform your health care professional if you are pregnant or may be pregnant prior to starting this treatment. Pregnancy category D (olaparib may be hazardous to the fetus. Women who are pregnant or become pregnant must be advised of the potential hazard to the fetus.)
  • For both men and women: Do not conceive a child (get pregnant) while taking olaparib. Barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms, are recommended during treatment and for at least 1 month following completion of therapy. Discuss with your doctor when you may safely become pregnant or conceive a child after therapy.
  • Do not breast feed while taking this medication.

Self-Care Tips:

  • High blood pressure may be a side effect of olaparib. You blood pressure should be well controlled before starting olaparib. Your healthcare provider will check your blood pressure regularly during treatment.
  • Drink at least two to three quarts of fluid every 24 hours, unless you are instructed otherwise.
  • If you should experience nausea, take anti-nausea medications as prescribed by your doctor, and eat small frequent meals. Sucking on lozenges and chewing gum may also help.
  • Avoid sun exposure. Wear SPF 30 (or higher) sun block and protective clothing.
  • In general, drinking alcoholic beverages should be kept to a minimum or avoided completely. You should discuss this with your doctor.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Maintain good nutrition.
  • Olaparib can cause tiredness, weakness or blurred vision. If you have any of these symptoms, use caution when driving a car, using machinery, or anything that requires you to be alert.
  • If you experience symptoms or side effects, be sure to discuss them with your health care team. They can prescribe medications and/or offer other suggestions that are effective in managing such problems.

Monitoring and Testing:

You will be checked regularly by your health care professional while you are taking olaparib to monitor side effects and check your response to therapy.

How Olaparib Works:

Targeted therapy is the result of about 100 years of research dedicated to understanding the differences between cancer cells and normal cells. To date, cancer treatment has focused primarily on killing rapidly dividing cells because one feature of cancer cells is that they divide rapidly. Unfortunately, some of our normal cells divide rapidly too, causing multiple side effects.

Targeted therapy is about identifying other features of cancer cells. Scientists look for specific differences in the cancer cells and the normal cells. This information is used to create a targeted therapy to attack the cancer cells without damaging the normal cells, thus leading to fewer side effects. Each type of targeted therapy works a little bit differently but all interfere with the ability of the cancer cell to grow, divide, repair and/or communicate with other cells.

There are different types of targeted therapies, defined in three broad categories. Some targeted therapies focus on the internal components and function of the cancer cell. The targeted therapies use small molecules that can get into the cell and disrupt the function of the cells, causing them to die. There are several types of targeted therapy that focus on the inner parts of the cells. Other targeted therapies target receptors that are on the outside of the cell. Therapies that target receptors are also known as monoclonal antibodies. Antiangiogenesis inhibitors target the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the cells, ultimately causing the cells to starve.

Olaparib is a targeted therapy. Olaparib is a poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) enzyme inhibitor, including PARP1, PARP2, and PARP3. PARP enzymes are involved in DNA transcription, cell cycle regulation, and DNA repair. Olaparib is a potent oral PARP inhibitor which induces synthetic lethality in BRCA 1/2 deficient tumor cells through the formation of double-stranded DNA breaks which cannot be accurately repaired, which leads to disruption of cellular homeostasis and cell death.

Research continues to identify which cancers may be best treated with targeted therapies and to identify additional targets for more types of cancer.

Note: We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice. is designed to provide the latest information about chemotherapy to patients and their families, caregivers and friends. For information about the 4th Angel Mentoring Program visit