April 1, 2012
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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.

California Issues Report on Toxic Substances in Nail Products

April 2012

Dear Get In Front Supporter,

We are proud of the ongoing work that CPIC's Environmental Research Group has been doing on the nail salon health and safety issue, which we have told you about previously. As part of the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, we have been able to apply our research to inform outreach efforts to salon workers and owners as well as consumers. Our research also has affected government policies, as we worked with governmental agencies to provide better regulatory oversight of the cosmetics industry. Last week, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control released a significant report that highlighted product mislabeling — toxic compounds were found in nail products that claimed to be free of such compounds. Please take a few minutes to read this coverage in the Los Angeles Times. Enjoy.




Not All Breast Cancer Survivors Fare Equally Well

Chinese immigrant women who are breast cancer survivors – a growing segment of the population – may face a tougher up-hill battle after treatment than US-born Chinese and White women. A recent study co-authored by CPIC Research Scientist Scarlett Lin Gomez, Ph.D., and published in the journal Gynecologic Oncology, found that Chinese immigrant women may be less inclined to express their post-treatment needs to their physicians, which may result in greater emotional distress.


Read more to find out how ethnicity and place of birth can profoundly affect your health.




Buy Your Tickets Now! Get In Front Performance Scheduled for June 6

Tickets are now on sale for an evening of outstanding performance by dancers from the Bay Area’s most celebrated dance companies. This one-night only performance to benefit the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC) is scheduled for Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 7pm at the classic Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, and is limited to just 900 ticket holders. Performance tickets start at $35. All tickets priced at $125 or higher include admission to an After Party and Silent Auction. Visit the Get In Front website or call 415-392-4400. All proceeds from the event directly benefit CPIC’s cancer prevention research and other programs.


Purchase your tickets for the performance today!




The Pipeline: Funding Supports Study to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening

A continuing study to increase colorectal cancer screening in Vietnamese Americans received funding in March. Directed by CPIC Research Scientist Bang Nguyen, Dr.P.H., the study targets a medically underserved population, by involving lay health workers and the media in disseminating evidence-based information about screening.


Visit the awards page for more information.




Organ Transplants, the Immune System and Cancer

Through innovative linkages of registries of transplant recipients with population-based cancer registries (such as CPIC’s Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry), researchers across the nation, including CPIC Research Scientist Christina Clarke, Ph.D., M.P.H., are gaining a better understanding of why people who receive organ transplants are at elevated risk for some cancer, especially lymphoma.


Find out more about these connections and how CPIC is helping to understand them.




Behind the Scenes with Program Managers: The Go-To People at CPIC

Each of the many large research studies at CPIC has a lot of moving parts, and can involve hundreds or even thousands of participants. And while keeping track of all the details in one of these large studies would seem to require an army of trained and experienced staff, at CPIC that work is done by just one CPIC program manager. Find out more about this small group of dedicated and incredibly competent staff who keep CPIC’s studies running by turning multi-tasking into a high art.


Meet CPIC's Program Managers