December 1, 2013
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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.

Cancer Survivor’s Spinning Event Supports CPIC

December 2013

A special message from Sally Glaser, Ph.D.:
Dear Get In Front Supporter,

This is the final issue in which I write to you as Chief Executive Officer of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California. Six months ago, after five years of serving as CEO, I formally resigned from my role so that I could, at this time, return to a full focus on my CPIC work as a research scientist and Director of CPIC’s Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry. I have been honored to lead and represent CPIC and I am proud of our efforts to Get In Front of cancer. You may read more below about this transition. Also in this issue, we share our newest research work, as well as some photos and updates from two recent fundraising events. Thank you for your support of CPIC this year and in the past. I wish you and your families a healthy holiday season and a prosperous New Year.




A Conversation with Resigning CPIC CEO Sally Glaser, Ph.D.

As mentioned above, Sally Glaser, Ph.D., has stepped down from her role as CPIC’s Chief Executive Officer after five years of service. A search firm, aided at CPIC by a CEO search committee, is currently evaluating candidates to assume the CEO role. In the meantime, a leadership team is governing the organization. This team includes CPIC Board of Trustees Chairman Samuel Bronfman II, CPIC Chief Operating Officer Reed Goertler, and CPIC Director of Research Ann Hsing, Ph.D. In the following question-and-answer feature, Dr. Glaser explains that she feels it is always healthy for organizational leadership to change from time to time, in addressing her decision to resign, and she also talks about some of CPIC’s proudest achievements over her tenure as CEO. We encourage you to click on the link below to read more about Dr. Glaser, as she reflects on the past five years and looks forward to her years ahead at CPIC, as she focuses more fully on her research and continues to oversee the Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry.


Read our interview with Sally Glaser, Ph.D.




Proceeds from Get In Front Performance 2013 Surpass Last Year's Results

The Get In Front Performance 2013, which took place on November 12th at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, has raised more than $240,000, which will go directly toward CPIC’s mission to prevent cancer and reduce its burden. This surpasses the results from last year’s performance, indicating that support for cancer prevention is growing through CPIC’s Get In Front campaign. We extend our gratitude to all of the attendees and supporters of this year’s event, who helped to make it such a success, including the Get In Front Performance dancers, Committee members, corporate and private sponsors, volunteers, and in-kind contributors. Our heartfelt appreciation goes to Get In Front Performance Co-Founders Garen Scribner, James Sofranko, and Margaret Karl, for their tireless work and vision to support and inspire people to come together for this unique and unparalleled evening of exciting performing arts. Please click on the link below to enjoy some spectacular photos, courtesy of Drew Altizer Photography, of the Get In Front performance, sponsor reception, and post-performance party.

View photos from this year's Get In Front Performance




'Tis the Season...of Giving!

Imagine how many lives would be improved, and how many would be saved, if we could get in front of cancer. With your support this holiday season, CPIC can do more to work toward a world without cancer. We’ve already made significant strides, with CPIC research findings leading to legislation, education and critical cancer screenings. Every day our scientists work to understand the genetic, environmental, racial/ethnic, socio-economic and lifestyle factors related to why cancer occurs by studying cancer patterns in the Bay Area and across the nation. Armed with that understanding, we can then pursue the best approaches to prevention. But our progress can only be continued with your support. While cancer survival rates have improved, anyone who’s been diagnosed will tell you they would have preferred prevention over treatment. That’s why we’re asking for your help. With your gift to CPIC, we can continue to work toward a day when there is no cancer.


Support our efforts to prevent cancer and reduce its burden




Cancer Survivor & Spinning Enthusiast's "JOYride" Benefits CPIC

Financial planner and mother-of-two Joy Boatwright was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 40, after her first mammogram. She underwent surgery and radiation, and survived, and now encourages wellness in others. Joy, who is an avid indoor cyclist and the epitome of her name, organized the “JOYride,” a spinning event that raised $6,000 for CPIC and UCSF on November 22nd at San Francisco’s Soul Cycle. Knowing exercise can reduce risk and recurrence of some cancers, she designed the JOYride to include 45 minutes of spinning to inspirational music. She aimed to educate women to take care of themselves as she shared her passion for fitness and health, and did just that, with many of the over 50 women who attended saying they've never been more inspired. Joy says she also wanted to set a good example of charitable giving for her children, and said that “CPIC is 100% where I would want money to go in the fight against cancer. Their research helps us understand why so many people are getting cancer and how we can change that.” Thank you, Joy, for your inspiring support!


Join Joy in supporting CPIC




The Pipeline: CPIC Contributes to Large-Scale, Multiethnic Study of Underlying Genetic Susceptibilities to Disease

Some of CPIC’s newest work includes our participation in a large collaborative initiative to decipher, on a large scale, how subtle genetic changes are linked to a wide range of diseases and conditions, including cancer and obesity, among others. CPIC’s involvement will be part of work directed by the University of Southern California and the University of Hawaii, and will focus on less-studied minority groups such as African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Hawaiians, many of which tend to have a greater incidence of disease. CPIC’s Iona Cheng, Ph.D., and team are contributing expertise to the study’s design and research methods, and will also be involved in analyzing study data. The researchers hope that studying these genetic variations will allow them to better understand the biological complexities of many diseases, leading to more personalized prevention, diagnoses and treatment.


Learn about our other recently funded projects