Clinical trial for women and men with a BRCA gene mutation

Australian researchers are looking for women and men who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and who carry a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation to participate in an international clinical trial.

The OlympiA clinical trial is investigating whether taking olaparib tablets twice a day for 12 months can reduce the risk of breast cancer recurring (coming back). The trial is open to women and men diagnosed with HER-2 negative breast cancer who have an inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene abnormality.

Approximately 80 per cent of all breast cancers are HER-2 negative and about 5 per cent of these breast cancers also have inherited abnormalities in the breast cancer genes, BRCA1 or BRCA2. While many people diagnosed with HER-2 negative breast cancer are successfully treated with currently available treatments (including breast surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy), in some the breast cancer will recur and so new treatments are needed.

As part of OlympiA, people with HER-2 negative breast cancer will receive genetic testing to see if they have an abnormality in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. This will not only determine whether they might be eligible to join the trial, but will also give them information about the genetics of their cancer, which could help with their broader breast cancer treatment, even if they don’t join the trial.

The study is being coordinated in Australia by the Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group (ANZBCTG), the largest, independent, oncology clinical trials research group in Australia and New Zealand. The OlympiA trial will enrol 1,500 participants from 23 countries, including 15 locations in Australia.

The Australian Study Chair for the OlympiA trial is Professor Kelly-Anne Phillips from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and the ANZBCTG. Professor Phillips says Australia’s involvement in this international research is great news for local patients.

Women and men with HER-2 negative breast cancer diagnosed in the past year and who are interested in participating in the OlympiA clinical trial should speak to their cancer specialist. More information about the study is available at or the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry at

Issue 72
Spring 2015