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Did you know?

  • We envision a world free from cancer.

    Our research scientists and their teams collaborate with colleagues around the world to conduct cutting-edge research using large data-sets to:
    • understand the causes of cancer
    • find ways to prevent it or detect it early
    • improve outcomes for cancer survivors 
  • Our mission began more than 40 years ago.

    Established in 1974 as the Northern California Cancer Program, the organization later became known as the Northern California Cancer Center. The name was changed again in 2010 when it became the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC), which reflects the organization's broader scope and demonstrates its large scale impact of preventing cancer before it starts.
  • We are an independent research institute and a valued partner to many.

    Through its collaborative approach, CPIC also serves as an asset to the nation’s leading cancer fighting organizations, including the National Cancer Institute, and to scientists worldwide, educators, patients, and clinicians, and is affiliated with the Stanford Cancer Institute.
  • We work hard to understand who gets cancer and why.

    Our scientists are frequent contributors to major scientific journals, and often present their findings at important cancer-related conferences. CPIC research has been covered by numerous local, national and international media outlets, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post.
  • Every case of cancer counts…and is counted.

    CPIC operates the Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry as part of the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results program and the California Cancer Registry. As required by law, the registry gathers data from hospitals and doctors on all cancers diagnosed and treated in nine Bay Area counties. This information is used to produce cancer statistics and as a platform for research to understand cancer occurrences and survival. Our registry regularly earns Gold Standard Certification by the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.
  • Our educational efforts reach people of all ethnicities and backgrounds.

    Our Community Education team provides important information to cancer survivors, health professionals and others through conferences and publications on many cancer-related topics including employment, patient advocacy, care giving, specific cancers, and treatments.

  • Breast cancer rates decline when hormone therapy is stopped.

    CPIC was first to report on the alarmingly high and increasing rates of breast cancer in the Bay Area and Marin County in the 1990s. In subsequent studies, CPIC found that when women stopped taking hormone replacement therapy, breast cancer rates declined immediately and dramatically. This showed that hormone therapy was a major contributor to the high rates previously reported and identified one clear path to breast cancer prevention.
  • Our work to associate tanning beds and melanoma prompted legislation.

    CPIC described increased occurrence of melanoma in young women in California, particularly in high socioeconomic areas, implicating use of tanning beds as one cause. This finding led to passage of the first statewide legislation to ban minors from using tanning beds, which should ultimately reduce occurrences of deadly melanoma in young persons.
  • Physical activity lowers your risk of Breast Cancer

    CPIC found that risk of breast cancer was lower for women engaging in more physical activity, such as walking and biking, doing household chores and yard work, and being active on the job. This shows a simple and practical way women can help prevent breast cancer from occurring.
  • Second-hand smoke increases the risk of lung and breast cancer.

    CPIC studies have shown that women exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke have a higher risk of lung cancer even if they don't smoke, and that exposure to household smoke increases their risk of breast cancer over and above the risk they incur from smoking themselves. These findings have been important in leading to anti-smoking legislation.
  • Vitamin D may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

    CPIC assessed whether sun exposure, which is the main source of vitamin D, is related to prostate cancer risk. Using the difference in skin color measured on the forehead and upper underarm as an indicator of sun exposure, the study found that prostate cancer risk was reduced by 50% in men with a high sun exposure index, with an even higher reduction in risk noted in men with certain alterations in the vitamin D receptor gene.
  • Survival outcomes differ among Asian women of different ethnic backgrounds.

    CPIC was the first to show that breast cancer survival is not uniform across women of different Asian ethnicities, irrespective of how advanced the cancer was when diagnosed. In California, Korean, South Asian and Vietnamese women had the poorest survival after breast cancer, pointing to the need in these communities for better screening and/or breast cancer treatment.
  • Melanoma is on the rise throughout California.

    CPIC demonstrated that the rates of both early and more advanced melanomas were rising in all populations in California. This disturbing finding signals a true and alarming epidemic of this deadly cancer, and it has been cited over 245 times in the medical literature since 2009 because it identifies a major public health problem.
  • Survival disparities occur across many cancer types.

    CPIC showed that survival after follicular lymphoma, a common form of this cancer, is lower in poorer communities than in more affluent communities. This demonstrates population disparities in cancer treatment and shows a need in poorer communities for more access to skilled lymphoma care, including access to new successful drug treatments.
  • Our nail salon studies have widespread positive impact.

    CPIC found that California nail salons had higher than expected levels of carcinogens and other banned substances in the air, identifying the need for better standards and the importance of clarifying whether such exposures lead to cancer and other undesirable health outcomes.
  • Tailored approaches to healthcare are needed to address cultural differences.

    CPIC used two approaches to learn how best to help Vietnamese communities in California receive lifesaving colorectal cancer screening: one approach involved lay health workers directly educating the community on the importance of screening, and the other involved advertising about colorectal cancer screening. CPIC found that the use of lay health workers worked best to improve the screening rate, proving that organized community involvement improves colorectal screening practices among Vietnamese-Americans in California.
  • Lung cancer afflicts nonsmoking women more than men.

    CPIC was the first to show definitively that among nonsmokers, women were more likely than men to have lung cancer. Until this paper, there were no hard data about the incidence of lung cancer in nonsmokers. This study has been cited extensively as motivation for other research to understand the reasons why.
  • Genetic screening is especially important for African American and Hispanic women.

    CPIC was the first to study the level of BRCA1 mutations (genetic changes responsible for increased risk of breast cancer) in nonwhite women. This work found that young African American and Hispanic women with breast cancer had a particularly high prevalence of BRCA1 mutations, and signaled the importance to these communities and their doctors of screening for this mutation when indicated.

Other Resources

Latino coupleHere are some of the regional, state, and national resources that provide cancer information for you or anyone you know facing cancer.

Reducing Cancer Risk

Resources from the National Cancer Institute
Cancer Causes and Risk Factors
Free Help to Quit Smoking

California resources

California Smokers’ Helpline

Every Woman Counts
Free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services for California’s underserved populations.

San Francisco Bay Area organizations

Breast Cancer Prevention Partners
Policy and advocacy organization working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation.

Women's Cancer Resource Center - Berkeley
Information, referrals, and no-cost educational workshops on cancer risk reduction and detection.

Zero Breast Cancer
Promotes breast cancer risk reduction by working with diverse communities to translate scientific research and evidence-based recommendations to support health and wellness at key stages of life.

Other organizations

CanCan Health
Free one-hour workshop with a health instructor discussing risk factors, signs and symptoms, screening and early detection, and cancer myths.

Cancer Treatment and Support Services

National organizations  

  • Cancer Information Service  

    1-800-4-CANCER (422-6237)
    A nation-wide service of the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, this site is constantly revised and updated to reflect changes in treatment, clinical trials, and supportive care. The bi-lingual (English and Spanish) telephone service is available Monday through Friday, 9:00 am - 4:30 pm. NCI also offers an "instant messaging" service called LiveHelp (also bi-lingual), Monday through Friday,  9:00 am to 10:00 pm, Eastern time.
  • Lungevity
    Provides research, education, and support to people affected by lung cancer.

Cancer and Careers
Empowers and educates people with cancer to thrive in their workplace, by providing advice, tools and educational events.

Financial help

Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition
A coalition of organizations helping cancer patients manage their financial challenges.


Patient Advocate Foundation
Provides patients with arbitration, mediation and negotiation support to settle issues with access to care, medical debt, and job retention related to their illness.

San Francisco Bay Area Organizations

Breast cancer support services

Bay Area Young Survivors - San Francisco
A support and action group for young women living with breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Emergency Fund - San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara
Provides emergency financial assistance to low-income individuals battling breast cancer.

HERS Breast Cancer Foundation - Fremont and Pleasanton
A not-for-profit agency that provides patients with post-surgical products such as prostheses, bras, wigs, and lymphedema garments, regardless of their financial status.

Knitted Knockers - San Jose
A free service offering handmade breast prosthesis for women who have undergone mastectomies or other procedures of the breast.

Breast and ovarian cancer support services

Bay Area Cancer Connections -
Personalized, free services for patients and family members, including emotional support, information resources, wellness programs, and a boutique for wigs and breast prostheses.

Support and education - all cancers

Cancer CAREpoint - San Jose
Counseling, assistance, resources and education for Silicon Valley cancer patients, cancer survivors, families & caregivers.

Cancer Support Community - Walnut Creek
Provides counseling, nutrition, exercise and education for cancer patients and their loved ones.

Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic - Oakland
A California licensed free clinic and non-profit providing acupuncture, bodywork, and other therapies to complement mainstream cancer treatments.

Círculo de Vida - San Francisco
Spanish-language support group offering translation, case management and in-hospital and in-home support during surgery and treatment.

National Lymphedema Network - Oakland  
Information, referrals, guidance and education about primary and secondary lymphedema. 

Shanti's Margot Murphy Women's Cancer Program - San Francisco
Provides multilingual care navigation services to help women apply for practical assistance, to enroll in health and wellness activities, and to support the continuum of the cancer journey.

Women's Cancer Resource Center - Berkeley
Free support groups, in home support, and support line.

Transportation assistance

Drivers for Survivors - East Bay
Provides free transportation service for ambulatory cancer patients living in Fremont, Newark, Union City, Hayward, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Castro Valley, Ashland and Cherryland going to all cancer-related medical appointments within a 60-mile radius of zip code 94538.


Bay Area Tumor Institute - Oakland
Nonprofit organization offering patients in the East Bay with investigational cancer treatments approved by the National Cancer Institute, as well as opportunities for populations at risk to participate in cancer prevention trials.

Lazarex Cancer Foundation - Danville
Provides advanced stage cancer patients and the medically underserved with clinical trial participation assistance including cost support for FDA trials and identification of clinical trial options.

thesecondopinion  - San Francisco
thesecondopinion provides free comprehensive second opinions to adults in California diagnosed with cancer, using a panel format.


Peninsula Jewish Community Center - Palo Alto
8-week program provides breast cancer survivors with 30-minute individual training sessions twice a week.

Sunflower Wellness - Locations throughout the Bay Area
Exercise classes for people living with cancer, both during active treatment and post-treatment.

Women's Cancer Resource Center 
- Berkeley
No-cost workshops on healthy cooking and nutrition, mindfulness, therapeutic art, and yoga practice.

Cancer Statistics