January 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.

Men at Higher Risk for 32 of 35 Cancers

January 2012

Dear Get In Front Supporter,

You know that CPIC doesn’t toot its own horn without cause. But we are very excited by the arrival of our new Director of Research, Dr. Ann Hsing. Dr. Hsing comes to us from her former position as a senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute and brings an international reputation and scientific credentials of the highest order. We are enthusiastic about what will happen at CPIC when we combine Dr. Hsing’s energy, ideas, and leadership with the breadth and depth of knowledge and interest of our current stellar scientists. And speaking of outstanding research at CPIC, this month’s newsletter features a behind-the-scenes look at the vital and oft-times invisible work performed by the interviewers/phlebotomists at CPIC who make much of that outstanding research possible. Enjoy.

CPIC Welcomes Dr. Ann Hsing as New Director of Research

Ann Hsing, Ph.D., M.P.H., has joined CPIC as our new Director of Research. Dr. Hsing comes to CPIC from her position as a senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute, and brings national and international leadership in the research of several cancers. An established international authority on the molecular, genetic, and environmental risk factors of diseases, Dr. Hsing intends to lead CPIC to further preeminence in understanding the causes of cancer and developing effective means of prevention across all segments of the population.

Take a few moments and get to know Dr. Hsing

Behind the Scenes: Interviewers at CPIC

This vitally important group of workers at CPIC is responsible for recruiting study participants, gathering personal data from them through interviews in the field, drawing blood when needed, and covering more than half the state of California to do so. A rare breed that combines advanced social skills, high technical proficiency, a passion for the science and a commitment to the people who participate in our studies, these interviewers/phlebotomists are at the core of many of the studies that come out of CPIC.

Read the full story and meet some of these remarkable workers

The Pipeline: Hazardous Air Pollutants and Breast Cancer

A CPIC study on hazardous air pollutants and breast cancer risk among California teachers received continuing funding support in December. The study, directed by CPIC Senior Research Scientist Peggy Reynolds, Ph.D., M.P.H., is evaluating the risk of breast cancer associated with estimated residential exposure to hazardous air pollutants among members of the California Teachers Study, a statewide cohort of female professional school employees living throughout California.

Visit the Awards Page for More Information

Men at Higher Risk for 32 of 35 cancers

It is well established that men get cancer more than women, and sometimes at considerably higher rates, but few scientists have explained why. A new study that involved CPIC Research Scientist Ellen Chang, Sc.D., and scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, analyzed almost 15 million cases (in no fewer than 60 countries) of 35 different types of cancer to understand how men and women differ with respect to cancer risk.

Find more details about the study here

Donations Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Regular salary reviews are an important way for CPIC to make sure that we are able to hire the best scientific researchers and other staff and retain our current outstanding employees. Generally a well-done salary review can cost between $50,000 and $100,000—typically out of reach for CPIC. But thanks to a generous in-kind donation from Deloitte Tax, LLP — facilitated by Louis Weller, co-Vice Chair of the CPIC Board of Trustees, and a principal with Deloitte — CPIC was able to undertake just such a review. “Deloitte likes to work with organizations like CPIC,” Mr. Weller said. “Because of this donation, CPIC is able to take advantage of world-class services that otherwise would be out of reach.”

Find your own way to donate to CPIC