October 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.

Our Newest Breast Cancer Prevention Studies

October 2012

Dear Get In Front Supporter,

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In this issue, we honor those with a history of this most common women's cancer by highlighting a program supporting cancer survivors. We also redouble our commitment to prevent breast cancer and reduce its burden through our cutting-edge research on breast cancer risk and our free mammogram referral services. You'll also see that our scientists launched numerous studies this past month. Even as we begin new work, the results of our research continue to influence policies across the nation. So that critical work like this can continue to have far-reaching impact, we hope you'll join our Chairman of the Board in supporting The 39 Years • $39,000 • 39 Days Campaign.




A Rush of CPIC Studies Launch with New Funding

Dr. Hsing (left) and Dr. Reynolds (right), primary investigators of new CPIC breast cancer studies Seven brand new CPIC research studies are underway this month after receiving new funding in September. The focus of these studies spans a range of prevention topics, including investigations of breast cancer risk, worker health problems, and how where you live affects your cancer risk. CPIC Director of Research Ann Hsing, Ph.D., and Senior Research Scientist Peggy Reynolds, Ph.D., are leading studies focusing on potential breast cancer risk factors. Dr. Hsing and her team are beginning investigations related to women’s sleep disruption, while Dr. Reynolds and her team are – through the California Teachers Study - evaluating women’s exposure to air contaminants in different areas over the last 30 years and at particular stages of life.


Learn more about our newest studies




October Breast Cancer Awareness: Early Detection Opportunities Through CPIC

To encourage early detection of cancers, CPIC operates the Cancer Detection Programs: Every Woman Counts Consumer 800 Number. Through this program, CPIC call center staff refers qualifying low-income women to free breast and cervical cancer screenings throughout California. Diane Jones-Abney (shown right) answers calls and refers women to screenings as part of this program. “Over the past 14 years I've worked at CPIC, the Every Woman Counts program has helped over 230,000 women who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford breast and cervical cancer screening exams. It makes my day when I realize how grateful the women we help are when we tell them they've been prequalified for a free mammogram or cervical exam.” For more information about this program, call 800-511-2300.


Learn more about Every Woman Counts at CPIC




Behind the Scenes: What Drives CPIC's Chairman of the Board to Get In Front

Meet Sam Bronfman, Chairman of CPIC’s Board of Trustees. Sam (shown left) became involved with CPIC after losing his first wife to breast cancer. He was supporting cure-focused cancer research when he came to realize the particular needs in cancer prevention research. “I thought I could have a more substantial impact by supporting the targeted and well respected work of CPIC’s prevention research experts,” Sam says. He has since supported CPIC by volunteering on the Board of Trustees, making annual gifts in honor of others, participating in CPIC letter writing campaigns, and including CPIC in his estate. “I appreciate that CPIC focuses on risk factors of the most common cancers, but also of other cancers and in particular populations – from those in affluent areas to some of the most underserved communities,” says Sam. “I support CPIC so one day no one will even have to worry about a cure.”


Join Sam in supporting CPIC through the 39•39•39 Campaign




Call for Study Participants: Help Prevent Breast Cancer in Asian Women

The research team of the Asian Community Health Initiative (Asian CHI), a large-scale, collaborative study of CPIC and its community partners, is seeking study participants for interviews and questionnaire responses to investigate what is causing the high and rising rates of breast cancer in Asian women. The study team aims to discover factors among Asian American women that may be related to breast cancer risk. If you are a woman without a history of breast cancer and between the ages of 20-80 from any Asian American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander ethnic group, and currently reside in the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo, Contra Costa or Santa Clara, please consider participating in this important study. For more information, contact asianchi@cpic.org.


Learn more about participating in the Asian CHI study by contacting the team




Upcoming Cancer Survivorship Conference Features Session for Young Adults

Adjusting to life after cancer treatment ends can be complicated and confusing. To help with this transition, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Community Education Program at CPIC, and the Stanford Cancer Institute are presenting a Bay Area cancer survivorship conference. It will take place on Saturday, October 27, 2012 from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm at UCSF's Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco. The conference is free and open to adult cancer survivors 18 years of age and older. The program will address issues that affect survivors of all cancers, and will also feature a special session for young adults with a history of cancer. The deadline to register is October 15, 2012. For more information, contact CPIC Community Education at 888.315.5988 or visit the conference webpage. To register now, go to: http://www.tinyurl.com/survivorship2012 or call 866.450.0669.


Register now for the Bay Area Survivorship Conference