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Does Lynparza cause hair loss?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on July 13, 2022.

Official answer

by Drugs.com

Lynparza, a targeted cancer treatment, is classified as a PARP (or Poly ADP-ribose polymerase) inhibitor. PARP inhibitors like Lynparza generally do not cause hair loss. Hair loss has not been reported as a side effect of Lynparza in the package insert and clinical studies conducted by the manufacturer.

Targeted drug therapies like Lynparza (olaparib) find and attack specific types of cancer cells and may cause less damage to healthy cells such as hair follicles. However, common and serious side effects may still occur with targeted drug therapies.

Lynparza has been reported to cause very low rates of hair loss (alopecia) in some studies. In a randomized controlled study, 7 out of 205 patients (3.4%) being treated for breast cancer who took Lynpara reported alopecia (hair loss) compared to 13.2% of patients who received a chemotherapy treatment of the physician's choice.

However, Lynparza may be used in combination with other cancer treatments (chemotherapy) that can cause hair loss. In a study of Lynparaza combined with carboplatin and paclitaxel, hair loss (alopecia) was reported in 89% of patients being treated for breast cancer or ovarian cancer. Paclitaxel is known to be associated with significant hair loss.

Hair loss during cancer treatment is a common concern for patients, but hair loss is usually reversible after cancer treatment. However, the emotional effects, even short-term, can be distressing. When hair grows back, it may be more coarse, curly, or lighter in color.

Not all cancer treatments lead to hair loss. Talk to your doctor to review the side effects of your treatments, including the chance for hair loss (alopecia).

Learn more: What are the side effects with Lynparza (olaparib)?

What is Lynparza prescribed for?

Lynparza is an oral medicine approved for the treatment of advanced ovarian cancer (for women with or without a BRCA mutation), breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.

Lynparza may be used if your cancer has a specific genetic marker (an abnormal "BRCA" or "HRR" gene).

Your doctor will decide if you need to be tested for this gene.

Which cancer drugs cause hair loss?

List of chemotherapy drugs that can cause complete hair loss include:

  • busulfan
  • cyclophosphamide
  • dactinomycin
  • daunorubicin
  • docetaxel
  • doxorubicin
  • epirubicin
  • eribulin
  • etoposide
  • idarubicin
  • ifosfamide
  • irinotecan
  • ixabepilone
  • paclitaxel
  • thiotepa

This is not a comprehensive list of drugs that can lead to complete or partial hair loss. Ask your doctor if your cancer treatment leads to hair loss.

What is a cooling cap?

If you are undergoing cancer treatment that may lead to hair loss, talk to your cancer treatment team about ways to minimize the emotional and physical effects of hair loss. Also, ask your doctor about a cooling cap (“scalp hypothermia”). This cap can reduce your risk of losing hair during chemotherapy. It is not effective in everyone and cannot be used for all types of cancer.

  • Scalp cooling devices are available in the US that are approved by the FDA, but not all products are approved, so ask your healthcare provider for a recommendation.
  • Cost may be an issue if your insurance does not cover it.
  • Some side effects can occur with use of cooling caps, such as feeling cold, a headache, or feeling dizzy.

Temporary use of wigs, hairpieces, hats, wraps and scarves are other ways to help manage hair loss during cancer treatment. Insurance will often pay for use of a wig for hair loss due to cancer treatments.

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