July 31, 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.

Latest CPIC Findings on the Radio

July/August 2013

Dear Get In Front Supporter,

If you want to support a worthy cause this summer and do it in a fun way, come to the 15th annual Oakland A’s Breast Cancer Awareness Day on Sunday, September 1st, which benefits CPIC’s Community Education Program. Until then, read below to find out about the results from our latest cancer research findings in the news - which highlight groups who would benefit from more attention toward particular cancers – as well as the latest information on our most recent studies. It may be summer, but we never take a vacation from cancer prevention!

CPIC Findings on the Radio: Groundbreaking Study Shows Certain Groups in Need of More Attention to Rising Rates of Lung, Breast, and Liver Cancers

CPIC has released findings from the first major study of cancer incidence trends among Asian American groups in the U.S. The research team, led by CPIC Research Scientist Scarlett Lin Gomez, Ph.D., examined data representing more than half of all Asian Americans, including eight of the nation’s largest groups - Asian Indians/Pakistanis, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, Kampucheans (Cambodians), Laotians and Vietnamese. The findings were featured recently on the radio and reveal increasing trends among certain groups, suggesting the need for targeted prevention and/or screening efforts for specific cancer types, in particular to address: lung cancer among Filipina and Korean women and Asian Indian/Pakistani men; breast cancer among all women; and liver cancer among Vietnamese, Laotian, and Kampuchean women and Filipino, Kampuchean, and Vietnamese men. “Asian Americans represent a diverse population from more than 50 different countries, and yet despite this, most research and cancer statistics tend to aggregate these groups, often giving the impression of positive health profiles,” said Dr. Gomez. “This study fills a critical gap in our understanding of the cancer experience of Asian Americans.”

Listen to Dr. Gomez talk about the findings on KGO 810 news radio

CPIC and Stanford Study Shows Melanoma is More Deadly in Young Men

Together with clinicians at Stanford, CPIC Research Scientists Christina Clarke, Ph.D., and Theresa Keegan, Ph.D., have released results from a study that focused on survival after a diagnosis of melanoma skin cancer among young males and females. They found that Caucasian male teenagers and young adults are 55% more likely to die of melanoma skin cancer than females of the same age. Their findings, which were published in the June 26th issue of JAMA Dermatology, suggest that there may be some important biological reasons for this survival disparity in young men.

Read a news article on the findings

Behind the Scenes at CPIC: Studying How Social Networks Can Help Breast Cancer Survivors

Many now consider online social networks - such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram - a normal, if not integral, part of life. For those who have personal experience with cancer, certain social networking sites that are targeted to the cancer patient and survivor community may be valuable tools for connecting anytime and anywhere with other cancer survivors, as well as gaining access to important information and support systems. CPIC Research Scientist Gem Le, Ph.D., studies the role of the social environment as it relates to improving community health. Dr. Le is determined to find out more about the role social networks can play in helping those who have faced cancer. She is conducting a study at CPIC to find out how breast cancer survivors, in particular, use and can benefit from online social networks with a cancer focus.

Watch this video to find out more about Dr. Le and her work

The Pipeline: How Cancer-Experienced Is Your Hospital?

One of CPIC's newest studies is a multidisciplinary project that brings together statisticians, clinicians, policymakers, and consumers. Sponsored by the California Health Care Foundation, the study involves CPIC Research Scientist Christina Clarke, Ph.D., and her collaborators working to better understand the relationship between the numbers of cancer-related surgical procedures performed at hospitals and patient outcomes. The ultimate goal of Dr. Clarke and the study team is to design a website that will allow California consumers to look up information on their local hospitals' volumes of cancer procedures, as an aid in decision making.

Learn more about our recently funded work

CPIC Grants Emeritus Status to Former Director and Chief Scientific Officer

CPIC has conferred the title of “Emeritus Research Scientist” upon its former Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer, Dee West, Ph.D. The new title is in recognition of Dr. West’s extraordinary and extensive service, which includes over 25 years of leadership in advancing CPIC research. In addition to serving as director and Chief Scientific Officer at CPIC, Dr. West expanded CPIC’s cancer registry and brought several large cancer research and outreach initiatives to the organization, including the Breast Cancer Family Registry – a breast cancer research program and massive repository of data for research - the CanCORS program – which studies care and survival of lung and colorectal cancers - the Cancer Information Service – a federally funded cancer education program - and the Every Woman Counts call center, which gives underserved women access to cancer screening services. Dr. West recruited and mentored many of the cancer prevention research scientists at CPIC today, and also played an instrumental role in establishing an ongoing partnership between CPIC and the Stanford Cancer Institute.