ASCO Advises Against PARP Inhibitor Retreatment in Ovarian Cancer

October 28, 2020 4:00 pm

The following article is provided by The Clearity Foundation to support women with ovarian cancer and their families. Learn more about The Clearity Foundation and the services we provide directly to women as they make treatment decisions and navigate emotional impacts of their diagnosis.

PARP Inhibitor

By Andrew D. Bowser

New guidelines recommend against retreatment with poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors in women with epithelial ovarian, tubal, or primary peritoneal cancer (EOC). However, trials investigating retreatment are underway, so this recommendation may change.

The guidelines, from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), do not recommend PARP inhibitors for the initial treatment of stage I-II EOC.

However, PARP inhibitor maintenance should be offered to women with newly diagnosed stage III-IV EOC who achieved a complete or partial response with first-line platinum-based chemotherapy, according to the guidelines. Niraparib can be offered to all women meeting those criteria, while olaparib can be considered for patients with mutations in BRCA1/2.

The guidelines, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, are based on a systematic review of recent randomized PARP inhibitor trials, including PRIMA and SOLO1, among others.

What’s not available now is overall survival results from key clinical trials, the guideline authors noted. They added that further research is needed to address the issue of conserving platinum sensitivity in patients with disease progression on or after PARP inhibitor maintenance.

“Given the expectation that early treatment may confer the best outcome, maintenance therapy with PARP inhibitors should be offered, with these caveats,” the authors wrote.

Olaparib can also be added to bevacizumab maintenance therapy following response to first-line chemotherapy plus bevacizumab, according to the guidelines, which also address PARP inhibitor use for women with recurrent EOC, as well as management of adverse events.

The guidelines recommend against pairing PARP inhibitors with chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy outside a clinical trial.

Which drug, which setting, which dose?

This new ASCO guidelines may help cut through the complexity of treatment decision-making for women with EOC, according to Roisin E. O’Cearbhaill, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

“Today as clinicians, we have a whole range of opportunities to give our patients PARP inhibitors in the upfront and recurrent setting,” Dr. O’Cearbhaill said in an interview. “It is quite complicated to know which PARP inhibitor should be used in which setting and which patients.”

“We want to make sure that patients who would derive the most benefit from PARP inhibitors are offered these agents but also that we’re careful not to use PARP inhibitors in settings where there is little or no data,” added Dr. O’Cearbhaill, who was not involved in the drafting of the guidelines.

The ASCO guidelines provide a detailed review of 17 clinical trials to address key issues, including the histologic types of EOC and biomarker subsets for which PARP inhibitors are recommended in the newly diagnosed setting, as well as the settings, dose, and duration of treatment that are recommended for patients with recurrent EOC who have not yet received a PARP inhibitor.

While PARP inhibitors are generally well tolerated, some characteristic toxicities – such as anemia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, persistent cytopenias, and nausea – may warrant dose reductions, the guidelines state.

Special attention must be paid to low-grade adverse events since PARP inhibitors are administered continuously on a daily basis, according to the guidelines. If a dose is held because of a grade 2 adverse event, the subsequent dose should be reduced to avoid a second dose hold.

“Reescalation or resumption of the initial dose is never recommended,” the guidelines state.


Dr. O’Cearbhaill said she is eager to see future guidelines addressing PARP inhibitor retreatment following disease progression, especially since more and more patients will receive these agents in the upfront setting.

Right now, there is little data available to address PARP inhibitor retreatment. However, the ASCO guidelines do mention the ongoing OReO/ENGOT OV-38 phase 3 trial of maintenance retreatment with olaparib in women with EOC.

This study, which includes patients who previously received a PARP inhibitor and who are responding to additional platinum-based chemotherapy, has an estimated completion date in May 2021, according to details on

That’s one of several trials designed to determine how best to incorporate PARP inhibitor retreatment into the treatment paradigm, according to Dr. O’Cearbhaill.

“Even if a high proportion of patients aren’t ultimately cured by this approach, if we can delay progression of disease by the order of months or even years, whilst proactively managing side effects, it would make such a big difference for patients,” she said. “It allows them to have a better quality of life and go about their daily activities without symptomatic ovarian cancer.”

Cochairs of the ASCO expert panel for the guidelines were William P. Tew, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and Elise C. Kohn, MD, of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md. Dr. Tew and Dr. Kohn provided no disclosures, while their coauthors reported disclosures related to Roche, AstraZeneca, Tesaro, Clovis Oncology, Merck, Seattle Genetics, and other companies. Dr. O’Cearbhaill disclosed that she is a coauthor on the PRIMA/ENGOT-OV26/GOG-3012 phase 3 clinical trial (NCT02655016) and serves on the steering committee for DUO-O (NCT0373643). She reported personal fees from Clovis, Tesaro, Regeneron, and GlaxoSmithKline.

SOURCE: Tew WP et al. J Clin Oncol. 2020 Aug 13. doi: 10.1200/JCO.20.01924.

This article was published by MDedge.

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