Talzenna is a brand-name prescription medication that’s used to treat certain types of breast cancer in adults.
It’s used to treat breast cancer with each of the following characteristics:
- Hormone receptor-positive or hormone receptor-negative. These cancer cells may or may not have receptors (attachment sites) for estrogen or progesterone.
- Mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes (types of breast cancer genes). These mutations (abnormal changes) increase the risk of having certain types of cancer. Cancer with BRCA gene mutations is called BRCA-positive.
- HER2-negative breast cancer. These cancer cells don’t have HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) proteins on their surface.
- Advanced disease. This type of cancer has spread near your breast (called locally advanced disease) or to other parts of your body (called metastatic disease).
Talzenna comes as capsules that are taken by mouth once daily. It’s available in two strengths: 1 mg and 0.25 mg.
Talzenna contains the drug talazoparib, which belongs to a class of drugs called poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitors. It’s considered a targeted therapy because it attacks specific parts of cancer cells. It works differently than chemotherapy (standard drugs used to treat cancer), which can affect all rapidly growing cells in your body.
One clinical study looked at people with BRCA-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer. People taking Talzenna had longer times without their cancer growing or spreading than people who were using chemotherapy drugs.
In this study, 62.6% of the people taking Talzenna had their cancer reduced by 30% or more. In people taking chemotherapy drugs, 27.2% had their cancer reduced by 30% or more.
Talzenna was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October 2018. It was the second PARP inhibitor to be approved by the FDA. The first FDA-approved drug in this class is called Lynparza (olaparib). It was approved to treat breast cancer in January 2018.
Talzenna is available only as a brand-name medication. It’s not currently available in generic form.
Talzenna contains the drug talazoparib.
Talzenna can cause mild or serious side effects. The following lists contain some of the key side effects that may occur while taking Talzenna. These lists do not include all possible side effects.
For more information on the possible side effects of Talzenna, or tips on how to deal with a troubling side effect, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
More common side effects
The more common side effects of Talzenna can include:
- hair loss
- feeling weak
- loss of appetite
Most of these side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects from Talzenna can occur. Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.
Serious side effects, which are described below in “Side effect details,” can include the following:
- anemia (low levels of red blood cells)
- neutropenia (low levels of certain white blood cells)
- thrombocytopenia (low levels of platelets)
- myelodysplastic syndrome or acute myeloid leukemia (cancer in your blood or bone marrow)
- severe allergic reaction
Side effect details
You may wonder how often certain side effects occur with this drug. Here’s some detail on several of the side effects this drug may cause.
As with most drugs, some people can have an allergic reaction after taking Talzenna. It’s not known for sure how often people taking Talzenna have an allergic reaction. Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:
- skin rash
- flushing (warmth and redness in your skin)
A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include:
- swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
- swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat
- trouble breathing
Call your doctor right away if you have a severe allergic reaction to Talzenna. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.
Hair loss (called alopecia) was a commonly reported side effect during clinical studies. In one study, 25% of people who took Talzenna had hair loss.
Most of these people lost less than 50% of their hair. In these people, the hair loss wasn’t noticeable from a distance. It could only be seen up close. A small percentage of people lost larger amounts of hair. These people may have needed to wear a wig or hairpiece to disguise their hair loss.
In this same study, 28% of the people using chemotherapy (standard drugs used to treat cancer) had hair loss.
Hair loss caused by cancer treatments is usually temporary. Most of the time, hair grows back after treatment is finished. If you’re concerned about hair loss, talk with your doctor about ways to reduce this side effect. They may recommend that you use scalp cooling caps or try other ways to improve the health of your scalp and hair.
Anemia was a common side effect seen in people taking Talzenna during clinical studies. With anemia, your body has low levels of red blood cells.
In one study, 53% of people taking Talzenna had anemia. About 18% of people using chemotherapy (standard drugs used to treat cancer) had anemia. In 39% of people taking Talzenna, anemia was considered severe enough to possibly need treatment with a blood transfusion. Less than 1% of people taking Talzenna stopped the drug because of anemia.
Anemia is usually a temporary side effect of cancer treatments such as Talzenna and similar drugs. It typically improves once treatment is finished. However, it can cause symptoms that affect your quality of life.
Symptoms of anemia include:
- fatigue (lack of energy)
- feeling weak
- trouble breathing
- bleeding from your nose or gums
- pale-colored skin
- feeling cold
- trouble concentrating
Your doctor will check you for anemia. They’ll do this by ordering red blood cell counts before you start Talzenna and every month while you’re taking the drug.
If your red blood cell count becomes too low, your doctor may adjust your treatment. They may lower your dose of Talzenna or temporarily stop Talzenna treatment until your blood cell levels improve.
If you have symptoms of anemia while using Talzenna, talk with your doctor. They can recommend ways to minimize your symptoms during treatment.
Neutropenia was a common side effect seen in people taking Talzenna during studies. With neutropenia, your body has very low levels of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell that fights infections).
In a clinical study, 35% of people taking Talzenna had neutropenia. About 43% of people using chemotherapy (standard drugs used to treat cancer) had neutropenia. This condition was the main reason that 0.3% of people taking Talzenna stopped treatment with the drug.
If you have low levels neutrophils, you have an increased risk of infection. A fever is often the first symptom of neutropenia. This may be followed by infections such as respiratory infections or skin infections.
Your doctor will check your neutrophil levels before you start taking Talzenna, and then monthly while you’re using the drug. If your neutrophil levels are too low, your doctor may adjust your treatment. They may have you wait to start the drug, reduce your current dose of Talzenna, or temporarily stop your treatment, until your blood counts return to a safe level.
If you have symptoms of neutropenia (such as a fever) while taking Talzenna, let your doctor know right away. You may need treatment if you have an infection.
Thrombocytopenia is another common side effect of Talzenna. With thrombocytopenia, your body has low platelet levels in your blood. Platelets help you form clots when you’re bleeding. If you have low levels of platelets, you’re at an increased risk of having a serious bleed.
Less serious symptoms of low platelet levels include:
- frequent bruising
- easily bleeding (often from your gums; blood may also appear in your stool)
- bleeding from wounds that lasts longer than normal or doesn’t stop on its own