When a mutation occurs in the gametes or germ cells which later becomes sex cells, the mutation is referred to as germline mutation. The germline mutation, in the majority of cases, causes harmful genetic disorders or diseases like ovarian cancer that may have a potential of being passed on to offspring.
Considered to be one of the most lethal forms of all the gynecological malignancies that are there, ovarian cancer is a serious threat that can make people succumb to death. However, with modern genetic drugs being discovered, such as rucaparib and olaparib, treating BRCA germline as well as somatic ovarian cancer has been possible to a great extent. Let’s take a closer look at these anti-cancer drugs here.
What are these drugs used for?
The drug rucaparib is used for treating patients who have had two or more sessions of chemotherapy for adverse somatic or germline BRCA mutation which is associated with ovarian cancer. On the other hand, the drug olaparib is used for patients who are suspected or have cancer due to germline BRCA mutation and have been treated with 3 or more chemotherapies before. These are both indicated as monotherapy.
Are there any side effects?
Patients taking rucaparib or olaparib are not meant to feel side effects. However, based on the duration of the treatment and the severity of the condition sometimes people may experience side effects like constipation, nausea, fatigue, kidney issues, decreased appetite, anemia, etc. The chances of experiencing skin rash, breathlessness, photosensitivity, heartburn and decreased the count of platelets are very less.
Are there any necessary precautions?
Before starting treatments with olaparib or rucaparib, patients are strongly suggested to tell their doctors about other medications they are taking presently, in case there's any. And, also, patients are advised against taking any vaccination or immunization or drugs containing aspirin without consulting their doctors. Both breastfeeding a child and conceiving during the treatment are strongly prohibited.
How do these drugs work?
Just like many other targeted therapies that are there for treating cancer, both rucaparib and olaparib primarily work by killing the malignant or the fast-dividing cells associated with ovarian cancer. However, finding out more about the other features of the cancer cells is also its purpose. The PARP enzymes these two drugs include, induce the formation of the double-stranded DNA complexes which results in the death of the cancer cells.
People having either BRCA1 or BRCA2 germline mutations stands at greater risk of developing certain cancers, such as ovarian cancer or the breast cancer than other people. However, research has shown promising chances of targeted therapies such as the rucaparib or olaparib to play an effective role in treating germline mutations caused cancers. You can always talk to your healthcare professional to know more about these targeted therapies if at risk.