August 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.

Former Flight Attendant Leaves Nearly Half Million to CPIC

August 2012

Dear Get In Front Supporter,

This month, we bring to you our latest findings that reflect good news for women who have stopped taking hormone replacement therapy. We also report on some of our most recently funded studies, which include promising new research about air quality in nail salons. CPIC has many people to thank for making all of this ongoing and important cancer prevention work possible. This month, we thank those who have supported CPIC through major planned gifts and through service on our Institutional Review Board and Board of Trustees. And we thank YOU, our loyal readers and friends for keeping up with us as we Get In Front.

CPIC Study Finds Reduced Breast Cancer Risk from Alcohol Use Following Cessation of Hormone Therapy

CPIC has just released results from a study that examined whether the increased breast cancer risk related to alcohol consumption in postmenopausal women was affected by the use of hormone therapy (HT). Our scientists found that after women stopped using HT, their risk of breast cancer was no longer elevated with moderate alcohol consumption. The investigators based their results on responses from more than 40,000 participants from the California Teachers Study.

See what lead author Dr. Pamela Horn-Ross says about the findings

Former Flight Attendant Leaves Nearly Half Million Dollar Legacy of Support for Prevention Research

The late Joylene Weidner with her (late) husband, Harry As she battled a dire cancer diagnosis, Joylene Weidner of San Mateo, California decided she wanted to help prevent others from ever having to endure what she did. Ms. Weidner, who came to the United States from Australia and worked as a flight attendant, wished for part of her estate to go to a California organization working to prevent cancer. She passed away in 2009 and last month her trustees, Mike and Lily Ryan, followed through on her wishes and made a gift of $440,000 on her behalf to CPIC for its cancer prevention research. CPIC expresses sincerest gratitude to Ms. Weidner and we are honored to accept such a generous gift from someone who truly understood the value of prevention research. If you’re interested in including CPIC in your own estate planning, please contact Dori Ives at

Learn more about leaving a legacy through planned giving

The Pipeline: New Nail Salon Research

Six CPIC research studies and contracts received new or continuing grant funding in July. One of these studies is new work related to CPIC's sustained focus on nail salon worker health, an area of our research that has attracted national attention and influenced federal policy action. CPIC Research Scientist Thu Quach, Ph.D., and her collaborators are using the new funding to determine whether nail salons participating in San Francisco's Healthy Nail Salon Recognition Program have reduced levels of select airborne compounds than other nail salons.

Learn more about our recently funded work

Behind the Scenes at CPIC: Protecting Research Participants

Meet Joseph McGuire, M.D., Co-chair of the Institutional Review Board at CPIC. An Institutional Review Board (IRB) reviews research studies from an ethics perspective to ensure the study participants are well protected. Dr. McGuire and the CPIC IRB evaluate the benefits of participation in CPIC studies, work to minimize risks, ensure all data meets security standards, and specifically ensure participants are fully informed about the studies in which they freely agree to participate. They review more than 80 active studies each year. "I've been delighted to serve on CPIC's IRB," says Dr. McGuire. "The study applications we review reflect each investigator's commitment to cancer research and respect for study participants. Also, it's exciting to be part of a process that often ends with CPIC research being published in some of the most influential journals." CPIC thanks Dr. McGuire and the many volunteers who help us safeguard the ethics of our research. If you're interested in serving on CPIC's IRB, please contact Robert McLaughlin at

Contact us about serving on CPIC's IRB

CPIC Recognizes Retiring Board Trustees’ Service and Support

In June, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Vinita Gupta and former finance professional Terri Kwiatek retired from the CPIC Board of Trustees. During her two-year service to the Board, Ms. Gupta volunteered as Chair of the Nominating Committee and has been inspired by the targeted approach of CPIC cancer prevention research. She has made an early commitment to support CPIC’s upcoming $25,000 Matching Challenge 2012. Ms. Kwiatek served and supported CPIC for over a decade, first as a member of the Finance Committee in 2001. She joined the Board of Trustees in 2002 and served as Vice Chair and Secretary/Treasurer of the Board, chairman of the Audit Committee and was a member of several Board committees. Ms. Kwiatek considers CPIC a “great place to get involved” and has enjoyed working “with staff members who are dedicated to their goals.” CPIC extends deep appreciation to Ms. Gupta and Ms. Kwiatek for their generosity and dedication to our organization and its cancer prevention mission.