November 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.

Meet CPIC's Newest Researcher

November 2012

Dear Get In Front Supporter,

As mentioned in a recent Los Angeles Times article featuring CPIC’s own Tina Clarke, prevention of health problems is the future. That’s why, right now, CPIC staff is at the forefront of focused work to determine how we can prevent more cancers. Every day, our expert scientists are discovering more about both genetic cancer risk and modifiable lifestyle practices to help you and your loved ones lower your risk, and more about why some groups have better survival rates than others. But to make a cancer diagnosis a thing of the past, we can’t do this work alone. Just like our friend Cody Higdem, highlighted below, you play a critical role in following and sharing our findings, and we hope you’ll invest in the future of prevention through our second annual matching challenge.




The Pipeline: CPIC and Collaborators Win $2.7M Grant to Further Strengthen International Breast Cancer Program

CPIC’s Dr. Esther John and her collaborators in the international Breast Cancer Family Registry were recently awarded a $2.7 million grant to extend their study of families with a history of breast cancer. The investigators will continue to follow over 13,000 multi-generational families enrolled in the study since 1995. In addition, they will enhance the study's data resources by reviewing the pathology of new breast cancers and categorizing these tumors by molecular subtype, and will expand their development of genetic profiles in order to identify genes associated with increased breast cancer risk. To facilitate the translation of study findings into improvements in clinical practice, Dr. John and her collaborators will also collect new behavioral data.


Learn more about our recently funded work




Behind the Scenes: Meet CPIC's Newest Researcher

Hailing from her recent post in Hawaii, Iona Cheng, Ph.D., has just joined CPIC’s team of cancer prevention research scientists and is adding a new dimension to our studies of genetics and lifestyle factors in relation to cancer risk. Her work focuses on multiethnic populations and genetic susceptibility to common cancers such as those of the prostate, colon/rectum, and breast. When she’s not at work, Dr. Cheng strives to stay healthy by running and practicing yoga. To learn more about Dr. Cheng’s background, studies, and why she came to CPIC, watch this video.


Watch a video of Dr. Cheng




CPIC Study of Social Factors Identifies Specific Subgroups in Need of Further Attention

CPIC scientists have released findings from the Neighborhoods and Breast Cancer Study, one of the first studies to look at a how a combination of social factors may affect a woman's survival of breast cancer. CPIC’s Scarlett Gomez, Ph.D., and Salma Shariff-Marco, Ph.D., and their team focused on race, education, and the socioeconomic status (SES) of women's neighborhoods. Comparing different subgroups to white women with high education in high SES neighborhoods, they found that regardless of education level, African American women in low SES neighborhoods had poorer survival and that most of their disparities were due to treatment and prognostic factors. Latina and Asian women with high education and in high SES neighborhoods had better survival. "We need to understand and address barriers to better survival for African American women in low socioeconomic status neighborhoods," said Dr. Shariff-Marco. "Identifying factors that lead to poor and better survival in all of these groups can help us design strategies to help more women survive after a diagnosis of breast cancer."


Learn more about the study findings




Starting this Month, Supporting Cancer Prevention Counts Twice!

Thanks to the generosity of CPIC supporters Richard Levy and Vinita Gupta, we’re launching our second annual matching gift challenge to support CPIC cancer prevention research and programs. Last year, our matching challenge exceeded its goal in just a few short weeks, and we hope you’ll help make this year’s challenge just as successful. Starting November 15th and continuing through December 31, 2012, all gifts for general operating revenue will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, up to $25,000, putting a total of $50,000 into preventing this disease. “Imagine a world without cancer. Making that dream a reality starts with prevention,” says Dori Ives, CPIC Director of Development and Communications. "Statistics indicate that one in two people will be diagnosed with cancer in this lifetime, but that can change if the public invests in prevention.” Don’t miss this opportunity to double your impact as together we shape the future of prevention!


Make your gift count twice and give today




Twitter and the Changing Landscape of Sharing Cancer Prevention Knowledge


With its 500 million users throughout the world, Twitter has changed the way a substantial segment of the human population uses and shares information. The existence of the social network has enabled CPIC, in particular, to easily share our cancer prevention research findings and other news in real time with more people, including Cody Higdem of Minnesota. Cody is a new, yet avid follower of CPIC news and Twitter posts. Known as @RaysHealingHand on Twitter, he was attracted to CPIC based on a Tweet he saw about a research finding on cancer risk. He says he refers to both past and current news from CPIC to provide valuable information about cancer risk and prevention to the audience of his own organization, Ray’s Healing Hand. "I feel very strongly that with proper prevention we can bring down cancer rates around the world," says Cody. "I like CPIC's Tweets because they're approachable and provide very compelling information about either longevity or environmental contributions to cancer rates."


Join Cody in following CPIC on Twitter