June 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.

The Big Picture of Cancer in California

June 2012

Dear Get In Front Supporter,

We just released our 2011 Annual Report with the theme of Leadership in Innovation. When CPIC began its work in 1974, we were pioneers in the field of cancer prevention research, and we have stayed on the leading edge of that research through risk taking and innovation. The annual report examines how our novel work studying environmental toxins and cancer risk, maintaining our large cancer registries and developing multifaceted approaches to lower the incidence of melanoma and breast cancers, is leading to changes in public health policy, and is influencing other state and national policies aimed at cancer prevention. I hope that you will take a few minutes to go through the report and see for yourself how CPIC is leading and innovating national efforts to put an end to cancer. Enjoy.




Breast Cancer Treatment Choices Among Asian American Women

A study of treatment options used by Asian American women with early-stage breast cancer in California, led by CPIC Research Scientist Scarlett Lin Gomez, Ph.D., found that a patient's neighborhood, socioeconomic status and even the type of hospital where she received her treatment frequently result in differential treatment and potentially less successful health outcomes.


Find out more about Asian American women and breast cancer treatment.




An Evening of Dance and Fundraising to Prevent Cancer

Earlier this month, 32 of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most talented and committed dancers came together at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco to Get In Front of cancer. The Get In Front Performance, which raised more than $138,000 for CPIC research and programs, was made possible by San Francisco Ballet Soloists Garen Scribner and James Sofranko. We want to thank everyone involved in the performance, everyone who attended and especially our incredibly generous supporters and sponsors.


In case you missed it, you can read some of the media coverage here.




The Pipeline: Grant to Study Lung and Colorectal Cancer Patients

Four studies received new or continuing governmental funding in May. The research scientists directing those projects are: Christina Clarke, Ph.D., Esther John, Ph.D., and Dee West, Ph.D. One of these studies focuses on lung and colorectal cancer. It will collect information about medical care practices, outcomes, and information about behaviors and perceptions among newly diagnosed patients.


Visit the awards page for more information.




Ways to Get In Front

Everybody has his or her own way to Get In Front of cancer. Leslie McGarry, a cancer survivor (pictured on right), recently did it by hopping onto her bike and riding 66 miles up and down some pretty formidable hills around the Bay Area as she cycled from Fremont to Pescadero. Leslie raised more than $4,000 for CPIC and Breast Cancer Connections, and even managed to bring three of her friends along with her. Best of all, it looks like Leslie is committed to making this ride an annual event. Our thanks go out to Tracy and her riding companions and we look forward to hearing about next year’s ride.


Find out how you can Get In Front of cancer.




CPIC Research Scientist Provides Perspective on Big Picture of Cancer in California

Cancer cases among children in California are on the rise, while adult cancer rates are declining, according to a recent report on the state of cancer in California by the California HealthCare Foundation. This much-cited report, which brought an overview of the enormous human and financial costs of cancer in California did note the good news that survival rates for both groups are increasing. CPIC Research Scientist Christina Clarke, Ph.D., provided perspectives from the standpoint of CPIC’s efforts to track cancer in California. She stated that, “the decrease in adult cancer cases has been driven by efforts to curb California's smoking rate, which has led to a decrease in lung cancer rates.” She added, “there was a 15% decline in breast cancer cases shortly after women learned about the risks of hormone replacement therapy in 2003.”


You can listen to a report on the study on KQED’s California Watch.