February 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.

CPIC Starting New California Teachers Study Work

February 2013

Dear Get In Front Supporter,

February is National Cancer Prevention Month! In this issue, we recognize this important month by presenting to you our vision for the future of cancer prevention research. We highlight our newest research funding for our work with the groundbreaking California Teachers Study, as well as CPIC findings that have recently made international news headlines. We also report the results of the Matching Gift Challenge 2012, which are impressive, thanks to you, our supporters. So we may better serve our donors, we hope that you’ll give us your feedback via our donor survey. And if you haven’t registered for our upcoming breast cancer conference, now is the time. Thank you for your support!

Future of Cancer Prevention Research Holds Great Promise, Says CPIC Director of Research

CPIC research scientists with Director of Research Ann Hsing, Ph.D., seated rightAccording to CPIC Director of Research Ann Hsing, Ph.D., it’s an extraordinary time to be conducting cancer prevention research. Scientists at CPIC and elsewhere are now able to make paradigm-shifting discoveries, thanks to new technologies and innovations, such as more efficient ways to obtain information from biological specimens and the use of mobile phones to capture health data. They are also identifying treatable health conditions that would otherwise develop into cancers. Looking to the future, Dr. Hsing says, “In addition to making use of cutting-edge methods in CPIC studies of cancer risk factors, I would like our work to span the whole gamut of cancer prevention, from the human cellular level to the societal level.” She envisions further developing education and early detection efforts by encouraging cancer prevention-related vaccinations, as well as more screenings for early detection of cancers, particularly among those most at risk. “My ultimate goal is to use our thorough cancer prevention approach in California’s ethnically rich and diverse population as a model for future national and international cancer prevention efforts.”

Watch video of Dr. Hsing on the future of cancer prevention research work

The Pipeline: Building the Biobank

CPIC won seven new or continuing research grants in January. The largest of these will support CPIC’s work as part of a study, led by City of Hope, that will obtain new biospecimens from participants in the California Teachers Study (CTS), in order to enhance its research potential. As part of this landmark effort, study scientists - which include CPIC’s Research Scientist Tina Clarke, Ph.D. – will work to obtain 21,000 additional blood and saliva samples from 44,000 CTS participants, thereby creating a biobank for the study. Combined with the extensive environmental and lifestyle data already collected from CTS participants, the new biobank will position the CTS to identify new biomarkers for cancer. The California Teachers Study will thus make even greater contributions to scientific research in the continuum of discovery, validation, and translation of new information about cancer on the way to personalized medicine.

Learn more about our recently funded work

Research Finding from CPIC and Collaborators Makes International Headlines

CPIC scientists and their collaborators at Duke and UC San Francisco recently released their finding that women with early stage breast cancer treated with lumpectomy plus radiation may have a better chance of survival than those who underwent mastectomy. “Our findings showed better survival among women treated with lumpectomy plus radiation regardless of the hormone sensitivity of the tumor or the age of the patient,” says CPIC Research Scientist Scarlett Lin Gomez, Ph.D., one of the study's authors. The study results — which made international headlines and appear in the Jan. 28, 2013 online version of the journal CANCER — raise new questions as to the comparative effectiveness of breast-conserving therapies such as lumpectomy, in which only the tumor and surrounding tissue are surgically removed. These results are particularly relevant in light of the recent increases in numbers of women - particularly younger women with very early stage cancers - opting for mastectomy over lumpectomy and radiation.

Watch coverage of the findings on CBS Evening News

Behind the Scenes: Directing CPIC Development & Communications

Meet Dori Ives, Director of Development and Communications for CPIC. Dori is a veteran fundraiser with 20 years of experience in drawing people together to support a cause. At CPIC, she uses her expertise to design programs and campaigns that keep the public informed about CPIC’s work and findings, and helps people connect and effectively partner with CPIC to advance cancer prevention. Dori is happy to report that, thanks to the generosity of its supporters, CPIC exceeded its goal for the Matching Challenge 2012, providing $144,248 in resources to prevent cancer before it starts. “We are so grateful for the outpouring of community support for our cancer prevention mission that enabled us to achieve our matching challenge goal,” says Dori. “At CPIC, we strive to appreciate and understand all of our donors and what motivates them to support us, so we hope as many people as possible participate in a survey we’ve just developed to help us do that.”

Tell us what you think! Respond to CPIC’s donor survey

12th Annual Allison Taylor Holbrooks/Barbara Jo Johnson Breast Cancer Conference Will Have Something for Everyone

CPIC is sponsoring the 12th Annual Allison Taylor Holbrooks/ Barbara Jo Johnson Breast Cancer Conference on Saturday, March 2, 2013 from 8:00 am to 3:20 pm at the Golden Gate Club in San Francisco. The conference, which is part of CPIC’s work to reduce the burden of cancer, will have something for everyone. It will be especially valuable to those who have been recently diagnosed, those in treatment, those out of treatment, caregivers, family members and friends, and health care providers. The program is consistently recognized for the high quality of its featured speakers. This year, the diverse list of presenters includes physicians, nurses, social workers, patients, attorneys (for estate planning and employment issues) family members and friends of patients, agency leaders, and more. CPIC Research Scientist Peggy Reynolds, Ph.D., will present information on environmental issues and breast cancer. The deadline to register for the conference is February 26, 2013. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Find out more about the conference and register