November 30, 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 the Challenge to Prevent Cancer

Special Edition 2012

Dear Get In Front Supporter,

Everyone’s life has been touched by cancer, directly or through co-workers, family or friends. For almost 40 years, CPIC has been making great inroads toward cancer prevention through the incredible work, commitment and passion of its world-class researchers. But to fulfill our mission of someday having a world without cancer, we need to rely on the generosity of people like you. During this season of giving, we at CPIC have put together this special holiday newsletter that offers you an opportunity to meet a cancer survivor whose career is dedicated to cancer prevention research. Also, we’d like you to learn about an exciting giving challenge and how you can make the holiday season more meaningful. Lastly, we invite you to read about what moves others to give. We hope you, too, are inspired by these stories and by the important and exciting work done by CPIC in cancer prevention research. Our work, our commitment and our passion are as important to preventing cancer as your support. Thank you and be well.

Behind the Scenes: Volunteer, Advocate & Staff — All Three in One

Helen Chen is a Research Associate at CPIC, but her job began with a personal journey. When she graduated from UCLA, she moved to Beijing to work on AIDS research. When a young boy died in her arms because his mother didn’t know how to keep him from contracting her AIDS, Helen shifted her focus to disease prevention. Then at twenty-seven, Helen had another experience that again dramatically changed her life — she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Helen returned to California where she underwent successful treatment. One day, she heard about a job in cancer research with CPIC. “Cancer wasn’t on my list of areas to research,” says Helen. “I thought it was for old people, but I was proof that it wasn’t.” Helen has now been at CPIC for two years.

Besides CPIC, Helen is involved with many cancer-related organizations and speaks to young woman about the need for breast self-examinations and prevention. Recently she attended the Pretty in Pink Party in Los Angeles, raising money to benefit CPIC. Helen is also passionate about her job. “I am involved in exciting research on breast and other cancers,” explains Helen. “I like to be on the winning side of things and I am totally convinced prevention is that winning side.”

Find out how you can be on the winning side of preventing cancer!

One Size Fits All

It is that time of year when we ask ourselves — does Uncle Joe need yet another cardigan or Mom one more bottle of cologne? Why not give a gift that not only has real meaning, but also has the potential to someday create a world without cancer?

During this holiday season, please consider honoring a family member, friend or coworker with a gift to the Cancer Prevention Institute of California. CPIC is the only research institute that focuses exclusively on the work that leads to cancer prevention, and this special tribute truly expresses your love and appreciation of those who mean so much to you.

Every year, one out of two people hear the scary words — you have cancer. With your donation to CPIC, we can continue our important research into preventing cancer, so that one day no one will have to hear those words again.

CPIC will send the honoree a card acknowledging your gift. The amount remains confidential between you and CPIC.

To make a gift, click here or contact: Sandi Farrell at or 510-608-5003.

Learn about the different ways you can support CPIC

Supporting Cancer Prevention Counts Twice

Preventing cancer in our lifetime is so important and now, your gift to the Cancer Prevention Institute of California can count twice thanks to a generous Matching Challenge. All gifts to CPIC received for general operating revenues by December 31, 2012 will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, up to $25,000, putting a total of $50,000 toward preventing cancer.

Former CPIC Board member, Vinita Gupta, and Board Chair of Varian and CPIC Major Gift Donor, Dick Levy, began this year’s Matching Challenge because they understand that prevention is the key to a cancer-free future, and they wanted to help other donors to double the impact of their gifts to CPIC. The exciting opportunity the Matching Challenge provides will ensure that CPIC can continue its cutting-edge research on understanding cancer causes, and ultimately create a world without cancer.

The time is now to have your donation count twice! With your support the goal of a cancer-free world can be within reach. Please become part of CPIC’s Matching Challenge by December 31st and know that your support will go even further.

Click here to help CPIC meet its Matching Challenge

Why I Give

Everyone has a personal reason for giving to CPIC. During this time of giving, we want to share with you why some of our donors choose CPIC.

“We have daughters, daughters-in-laws, granddaughters and great granddaughters. We give to CPIC because we believe in preventing breast cancer and we care about their futures.” - Judy and Rance Howard

“I give to CPIC and its mission of cancer prevention because cancer has taken too much from me and too many of the people I love.” - Robert McLaughlin

More quotes on why people give