July 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.

Physical Therapist Gets In Front

July 2012

Dear Get In Front Supporter,

Here’s to summer! The season brings with it many opportunities to Get In Front. It’s a great time to be outdoors and refresh efforts to be more physically active. There’s a bounty of sun-kissed fresh produce in season for eating. There are more daylight hours to learn about cancer prevention and get involved, like CPIC friend Lisa Giannone has, as you'll read below. In this issue we emphasize the importance of research that recognizes that Asian Americans are not a single homogeneous group, but rather numerous, distinct groups, as we've studied extensively. We also highlight CPIC research that informs breast and skin cancer prevention, and offer other cancer prevention tips for you and your family.

Asians Are Not All Alike: CPIC Responds to Nationally Released Study

Last month the Pew Research Center released a report titled, The Rise of Asian Americans, which set out to “draw a comprehensive portrait of Asian Americans.” In response to this report, experts at CPIC who have found important differences among Asian American subgroups point out that we’ve come a long way to recognizing the incredible diversity in this population and that broadly suggesting Asian Americans are “model minorities,” as the Pew report does, can have serious harmful consequences for those in these groups.

See what our experts have to say about what can result

Cancer Prevention Tips for the Summer

Whether you’re planning your summer vacation getaway, watching the Olympics to get inspired or just enjoying the season, here are some tips to help you and your family be healthy and physically active this summer. Enjoy eating right to the fullest by choosing in-season fruits and vegetables and shopping your local farmers market. Get moving at home or near your vacation destination by using this Olympics-inspired tool to find nearby sports activities. Do you still smoke or know someone who does? Check out these tips for taking a vacation to quit smoking or how to quit smoking during a vacation.

Learn more about everyday actions to Get In Front of cancer

The Pipeline: Working with Families for Breast Cancer Prevention

In June, CPIC received continued funding for its work as part of a five-year study to follow-up with Bay Area families who are participating in the Breast Cancer Family Registry. With the new funding, CPIC’s Northern California Family Registry for Breast Cancer, along with the other registries contributing to the study, is updating information on the families' cancer and medical histories using a mail questionnaire. Through this work, Esther John, Ph.D., – the study’s principal investigator at CPIC – and her international collaborators hope to create more accurate models for predicting breast cancer risk by analyzing multi-generational family history, genetic data, and lifestyle risk factors. These tailored models will help direct more effective prevention strategies, particularly for women at high risk of breast cancer.

Learn more about the grant for this work

July is UV Safety Month

While sun protection is important year round, Ultra-Violet (UV) rays from sunlight are the greatest during the late spring and early summer. Many of us enjoy the outdoors more than usual this time of year, so it’s a good time to review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s information on skin protection basics. And check out this video from CPIC Research Scientist Christina Clarke, Ph.D., who has an important message about skin cancer prevention while on vacation with her kids. Last year, Dr. Clarke’s melanoma findings made it to the state capitol, influencing important tanning bed legislation.

Watch video of Dr. Clarke

Physical Therapist Gets In Front

Lisa Giannone is a physical therapist and founder/principal of Active Care, a center for sports and orthopedic rehabilitation and training. She has worked with college, professional, and gold medal Olympic athletes, and performing arts professionals. Since being diagnosed with stage four metastatic head and neck cancer five years ago, Lisa often thinks to herself, "How did this happen? How do I not let it happen again?" So when she heard about the Get In Front performance to benefit CPIC, she knew she had to help promote it. In May, she hosted a party that introduced the performance and the Get In Front cause to her friends, colleagues and clients, ultimately supporting the success of the Get In Front performance. CPIC extends heartfelt thanks to Lisa for inspiring support of CPIC's work to prevent cancer and reduce its burden.

Join Lisa in supporting Get In Front