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Survey of Oncology Nurses Reveals Knowledge Gaps Regarding PARP Inhibitor Therapies

Poly(ADP)-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibition is a new form of targeted therapy that has exhibited effectiveness in treating several solid tumor types. Olaparib (Lynparza®, AstraZeneca), rucaparib (Rubraca®, Clovis Oncology), and niraparib (Zejula®, Tesaro) have all been approved for the treatment of advanced ovarian cancer. Olaparib has also been approved to treat BRCA-mutated breast cancer and is currently being investigated in the treatment of prostate cancer. Another PARP inhibitor, talazoparib (Talzenna®, Pfizer) has been approved to treat BRCA-mutated breast cancer. The PARP inhibitor veliparib (ABT-888) is currently being investigated to treat non-small cell lung cancer, BRCA-mutated breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.

When i3 Health conducted a survey of 72 oncology nurses at the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) 44th Annual Congress in Anaheim, CA, in April 2019 to assess nurses' familiarity with PARP inhibitors and their confidence in managing related adverse events, many oncology nursing professionals expressed little to no familiarity with PARP inhibitor therapies. In addition, less than half of respondents were highly confident in managing PARP inhibitor-related adverse events.

Most respondents indicated that they were either "not familiar" or "slightly familiar" with talazoparib (93.1%), rucaparib (84.7%), niraparib (83.3%), and olaparib (72.2%). Only 8.3% indicated they were "highly familiar" with olaparib. Even fewer participants were "highly familiar" niraparib and rucaparib. None of the participants were "highly familiar" with talazoparib.

Less than one quarter of respondents indicated that they felt "highly confident" in managing PARP inhibitor-related adverse events, including neutropenia (22.2%), vomiting (20.8%), nausea (19.4%), thrombocytopenia (18.1%), anemia (16.7%), diarrhea (13.9%), fatigue (13.9%), loss of appetite (13.9%), muscle and joint pain (9.7%), abdominal pain (5.6%), and dysgeusia (5.6%).

"You'd be hard-pressed to find another health care specialty advancing and changing as rapidly as oncology," said Sandra Ruesch, MSN, RN, CEN, SPEN, SANE-A, Lead Nurse Planner at i3 Health. "As new cancer therapies emerge, such as PARP Inhibitor therapies, it is of utmost importance that we as nurses have the knowledge and skill to administer, monitor, and evaluate these new therapies."

The majority of respondents (84.7%) indicated they would like to receive education on PARP inhibitors to enhance their oncology nursing practice.


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