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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.

Get in Front Stories

Why prevention is key to CBCRP - the most successful state-funded breast cancer research program in the country

The California Breast Cancer Research Program (CBCRP), the exclusive Survivor Champion sponsor of the CPIC 16th Annual Breast Cancer Conference, is the most successful state-funded breast cancer research program in the country. CBCRP was founded over 20 years ago when California breast cancer activists joined forces with scientists, healthcare professionals, and state legislators to win passage of legislation to fund breast cancer and education initiatives in the state. Learn more about the work of the organization and how far it has come to fulfill its mission to eliminate breast cancer in this interview with Katherine McKenzie, clinical and prevention sciences program officer, at CBCRP.

What does CBCRP do?

Since 1994, CBCRP has funded $267 million in research to institutions and community organizations throughout the state to advance our knowledge about the prevention, detection, treatment and community impact of breast cancer. In 2016 alone, CBCRP granted nearly $10 million in research awards.

When and why was the organization founded?

In 1993, breast cancer activists, most of them women who had survived or had breast cancer, were impatient with the slow pace of progress against the disease. With their allies, they wrote and won passage of statewide legislation to push breast cancer research in new, creative directions. 

Do advocates continue to play a role in CBCRP today?

Absolutely. Advocates are heavily involved in research funding and planning decisions as we want our research to inform the broader public — reaching beyond the breast cancer research and advocacy community to influence policy and increase community understanding of the disease.

Their participation reminds us that breakthroughs are not meant to languish in scientific journals, but instead should be used to make a greater impact against the disease.

How is CBCRP funded?

The California Breast Cancer Act increased the tobacco tax by 2¢ per pack, with 45 percent of the revenue going to CBCRP. Additional support to CBCRP is provided by voluntary tax contributions made on personal California income tax forms and individual donations.

How significantly are Californians impacted by breast cancer?

Over 300,000 California women are living with breast cancer. Breast cancer can affect women of all ages and races, and approximately 80 percent of women who develop breast cancer have no family history of the disease. In California alone, more than 4,300 women die of breast cancer every year — that's more than 11 women every day who die from the disease.

How big of a priority is cancer prevention research to CBCRP’s mission?

Extremely important. The mission of the California Breast Cancer Research Program is to prevent and eliminate breast cancer by leading innovation in research, communication, and collaboration in the California scientific and lay communities. 

We encourage research that aims to reduce disparities, to identify the environmental and biological causes of breast cancer along with the sociocultural, behavioral and psychological issues of those at high risk or affected by breast cancer. 

Our ultimate goal is to prevent the disease and CPIC’s work is directly aligned with the areas of need we’ve identified as necessary to push the field forward. 

CBCRP has supported several CPIC studies over the years along with this year’s support for the Annual Breast Cancer Conference. Why is CPIC’s work important to CBCRP?

CPIC investigators are tackling projects that fill our knowledge gaps in critical areas of breast cancer research. These areas include the effect of the environment on our health, uncovering the many factors that contribute to breast cancer causation in diverse populations and providing the scientific basis for developing practical interventions and changes to health policy. The CPIC studies that CBCRP has supported uphold our commitment to innovation and addressing unmet needs in the field of breast cancer research.