February 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.

Diet High in Fish May Help or Harm

February 2012

Dear Get In Front Supporter,

Every month is cancer prevention month at CPIC, but February is National Cancer Prevention Month and we stand with the rest of the country in its focus on this important strategy. In this issue of In Front we present a study that looks at how a diet high in fish impacts health. Read below to see why the way you cook your fish may make a difference. You’ll also find information about two upcoming events. The 11th Annual Allison Taylor Holbrooks/Barbara Jo Johnson Breast Cancer Conference is taking place at the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio once again this year. This event, in March, is intended for breast cancer patients, survivors and friends and family, as well as medical professionals. You will also want to consider attending the Plumpjack/LINK Golf Tournament at the end of April. This annual event, now in its thirteenth year, is a fundraiser to support the Community Education Program’s breast cancer outreach at CPIC. I hope to see you at one of these.

Diet High in Fish May Help or Harm

CPIC Scientist Esther John, Ph.D., released a new study, which found that diets high in dark fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines reduced the risk of prostate cancer if the fish were cooked at low temperatures, as with baking or boiling. This suggested protective effect disappeared when the fish was cooked at high temperatures, as occurs with broiling, grilling or pan-frying. The study also found that men who ate two or more servings per week of white fish cooked using high-temperature methods were twice as likely to develop advanced prostate cancer as men who never ate any fish.

How healthy are your fish-eating habits?

Behind the Scenes: CPIC’s Biostatisticians

At CPIC, the world-class, cutting-edge research that goes on here is all about data, and lots of it. Along with that data comes a committed group of individuals who regularly manipulate mountains of raw information to help CPIC’s team of research scientists do their work more effectively. In this article we sneak a peek into the work of biostatisticians at CPIC.

Meet CPIC's committed biostatisticians and find out what it is they do.

Pipeline: Recent Funding Supports Two Projects at CPIC

A five-year study directed by Ingrid Oakley-Girvan, Ph.D., M.P.H., received additional funds in January for work exploring the connection between exercise and healthy bones in women under 50 with breast cancer. Also in January, Scarlett Lin Gomez, Ph.D., received funding for a study that delves into the connection between social factors and non-small cell lung cancer in Latinos in California.

Visit the awards page for more information.

Allison Taylor Holbrooks/Barbara Jo Johnson Breast Cancer Conference

Part of CPIC's work to reduce the burden of cancer where it cannot yet be prevented, the 11th Annual Allison Taylor Holbrooks/Barbara Jo Johnson Breast Cancer Conference will take place on Saturday, March 3, 2012 from 8:00 am to 3:15 pm at the Golden Gate Club in San Francisco. The event is for breast cancer patients and survivors, their families and friends, and medical providers, and nobody is turned away for lack of funds.

Find out more about the conference and register.

Annual Plumpjack/LINK Golf Tournament

Polish up those golf clubs and get ready to join us on Monday, April 30th, 2012 for the 13th Annual PlumpJack/LINK (Learning, Information, Networking and Knowledge) Golf Classic! This annual event combines a fun-filled day on the Lake Merced Golf Course with extravagant silent and live auctions, followed by dinner, to raise funds for breast cancer outreach by the Community Education Program at CPIC. And if your swing leaves something to be desired, you can still participate by becoming a sponsor.

Sign up now or find out about becoming a sponsor.