September 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.

Grammy Award-Winning Singer Gets In Front

September 2012

Dear Get In Front Supporter,

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and, accordingly, we share with you below our recently released findings related to eating habits and prostate cancer risk. We also report on emerging cancer prevention research work at CPIC and give you an inside view of our ongoing critical work to track cancer in the population. We are excited to present to you, in this issue, a Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter who has chosen to represent our Get In Front campaign, as well as a brand new opportunity for you to partner with us to empower prevention.

CPIC and Collaborators Find Frequently Consuming Pan-fried Meat Increases Prostate Cancer Risk

Researchers from CPIC and the University of Southern California (USC) have found that frequent eating of red meats cooked at high temperatures, especially pan-fried meat, may increase a man’s risk of developing advanced prostate cancer by as much as 40 percent. Researchers examined data from nearly 2,000 men who participated in the California Collaborative Prostate Cancer Study, a multiethnic, case-control study conducted by CPIC’s Esther John, Ph.D., and Sue Ingles, Dr.P.H., of USC. “Although prostate cancer is the leading cancer in men, epidemiologic studies have identified few risk factors,” says Dr. John. “Our study findings suggest there may be some easy modifications to the way we cook meat that can help reduce prostate cancer risk.”

Learn more about the study results

Grammy Award-Winning Michael McDonald is the Newest Voice of Get In Front

The push for prevention is spreading! The Get In Front campaign has attracted yet another spokesperson to its growing movement of people who refuse to simply wait for a cure, and this time it’s five-time Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter and former member of The Doobie Brothers, Michael McDonald. Michael knows the value of cancer prevention. His wife has faced the disease and now he’s motivated to ensure that others don’t have to, so he’s chosen to support the Get In Front campaign.

See why Michael Gets In Front

The Pipeline: Using E-messaging to Reduce the Burden of Breast Cancer in Latinas

Two CPIC research studies and one major contract received grant funding in August. CPIC Research Scientist Ingrid Oakley-Girvan, Ph.D., is leading one of the studies, a new, community-based project aiming to increase Latina women’s survival of breast cancer. Latina women are more likely to be diagnosed with an advanced stage of breast cancer and, even when diagnosed at the same stage, have a 20% lower survival rate than white women. Because follow up care after abnormal breast exams and early diagnosis and treatment are known to improve survival rates, Dr. Oakley-Girvan and collaborators will develop and test the effectiveness of an electronic messaging reminder system targeted to Latina women with abnormal mammogram results in order to encourage high-quality and timely follow-up care.

Learn more about our recently funded work

Behind the Scenes: CPIC’s Data Engine is More than Just Numbers

One of CPIC’s most powerful assets is its Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry (GBACR), a major data resource for cancer researchers, and source of local cancer statistics. Cancer diagnoses are reportable by law in all 50 states. But gathering the information needed for accurate registration is not easy, especially when many hospitals still have paper medical charts. Meet Karen DeNave, Certified Tumor Registrar. Karen has been a member of CPIC’s Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry staff for over 25 years. The data management expertise of Karen and her fellow registrars plays a vital role in the nation’s cancer prevention and treatment efforts.

Find out what registrars like Karen do at CPIC

Join CPIC in Celebrating 39 Years of Work to Advance Cancer Prevention

In honor of CPIC's 39th anniversary, we are launching “The 39 Years • $39,000 • 39 Days Campaign.” Help us celebrate by visiting our campaign page and partnering with us to make a cancer diagnosis a thing of the past. The first 39 people who make a donation to CPIC will have a chance to win a gift certificate for a two-night stay at the PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn, located on the beautiful north shore of Lake Tahoe, just steps away from the legendary ski lifts of Squaw Valley USA. Since 1974, CPIC has been at work every day collecting data on cancer, producing far-reaching research findings and offering services that promote cancer prevention and support.

Help us continue our steady advances on cancer