May 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.

Young Cancer Survivors Fail to Have Their Needs Met

May 2012

Dear Get In Front Supporter,

I am excited to share with you some last-minute news about funding for CPIC’s Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry (GBACR). Not only were we refunded by the State of California for the next five years, but also we received an excellent score on our application for refunding. This success reflects the outstanding work of CPIC staff. Our world-renowned cancer registry gathers information on all cancers diagnosed and treated in the nine Bay Area counties, based on information collected from medical records and provided to us under law by hospitals, doctors, and other medical facilities. This information is the basis of all our research toward cancer prevention. I’d also like to remind you that we are just a week away from the Get In Front Performance. There are still a few tickets available for this exciting evening, but they are going quickly. So take a moment and visit the Get In Front website to get your tickets. We hope to see you there.




Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer Need More Info

In a study that examined whether adolescent and young adult cancer survivors received adequate information and service needs after treatment, CPIC Research Scientist Theresa Keegan, Ph.D., M.S., found that the majority of these young cancer survivors failed to have their needs met. The study also found that the problem is particularly noticeable for African-American, American Indian/Alaska Natives, and Hispanics.


Read more about this study of young people and cancer.




Two CPIC Staff Get Healthy and Get In Front

Getting healthy and Getting In Front of cancer can be as easy as a small change in diet. Two CPIC staff members — Research Scientist Christina Clarke, Ph.D., M.P.H., and Human Resources Assistant Patricia Cordeiro — took a few small steps earlier this year to eat healthier. Each motivated by her own reasons, they both followed the same diet, and now they and their families are eating and feeling better.


Find out how Tina and Patricia changed their diets to Get In Front.




The Pipeline: New Grant Examines Environment, Obesity and Cancer

CPIC received funding for two new studies in April. One of the studies will investigate the impact of environment on breast, prostate and colorectal cancer risk among African-Americans and Latinos. The study, subcontracted through the University of Hawaii and directed by CPIC Senior Research Scientist Peggy Reynolds, Ph.D., M.P.H., will use data from the large, population-based Multiethnic Cohort study in conjunction with a rich socioeconomic and built environment database at CPIC .


Visit the awards page for more information.




Ways to Get In Front

On June 18, you can help Get In Front of cancer by swinging some clubs. The 21st Annual Women in Employee Benefits Invitational (WEBI) Charity Golf Tournament will be held at the Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club, with proceeds benefiting CPIC. It's not too late to sign up and hit the links to support cancer prevention. If watching athletic grace is more your thing, tickets are still available for the June 6 Get In Front Performance at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco.


See what other events are happening at CPIC.




Behind the Scenes with Volunteers from CPIC's Breast Cancer Conference

Pictured here are volunteers at the 11th Annual Allison Taylor Holbrooks Breast Cancer Conference this spring. They include CPIC’s Pam Priest Naeve, Natalia Kissoon, Claudine Reyes, Karen Homan, Helen Parnala, Ha Van, Myrna Marquez, and Karen Hussain. CPIC’s Rita Leung, Roxanna Pitchford, and Gabriela Pena also volunteered at the conference. The conference provides a wide range of new and practical information about living with a diagnosis of breast cancer, including information about treatment, side effects, patient and family support, nutrition, genetics, health insurance and much more. Speakers came from many regional agencies and hospitals, and volunteers were an essential component of the program.


See our amazing CPIC volunteers up close.