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PARP Inhibitors

  201-227-6200    |      gynonc@holyname.org

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For years, physicians have known that treating cancer in people with mutated genes, particularly those with damaged BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, is especially challenging. A relatively new therapy, poly-(ADP ribose)-polymerase (PARP) inhibitors, is gaining widespread use and providing life-prolonging outcomes in patients with mutated genes.

Oncologists at the Patricia Lynch Cancer Center at Holy Name have been using PARP inhibitors for the last several years. It is a form of targeted therapy that inhibits or stops cancer cells from repairing themselves, which leads to the death of the cells. As a result, PARP inhibitors help to shrink tumors.

At any given time, cells throughout the body can grow exponentially and become cancerous. In most people, genes such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes work to fix these errant cells before they spread and become cancerous. But when these genes are mutated and don't function properly, the cancerous cells continue to multiply, enabling the cancer to advance.

PARP inhibitors have been especially effective in expanding survivorship in people with ovarian, fallopian tube and primary peritoneal cancers. They are also starting to be used in the treatment of advanced breast and prostate cancers. In most cases, these medications are given for maintenance but can also be used with other therapies during treatment.