May 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.

The Future of Prevention is in the Freezer

May 2013

Dear Get In Front Supporter,

This month, in honor of Mother’s Day, we share a story about the meaningful way a daughter remembers her mother, as well as another story showing the power of women’s contributions to cancer prevention. We also introduce to you one of our newest studies focused on prevention of the most common male cancer. Finally, as May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Prevention and Detection Month, we bring you the latest news and information about melanoma, which is increasingly affecting both men and women. Thank you for keeping up with us!




CPIC Trustee Honors the Memory of Her Mother by Supporting CPIC

Meet Hilary Newsom Callan, CPIC Board Trustee and co-founder of the annual PlumpJack/LINK Golf Classic benefiting CPIC, which took place last month. For over 14 years, through this annual event, Hilary and her husband Geoff have raised over $2 million for CPIC's work in breast cancer. Hilary has lost many family members to cancer and says she is motivated especially by her mother, Tessa Newsom, who succumbed to breast cancer in 2002. She keeps the memory of her mother alive by raising funds for CPIC's work in her honor. "Raising money and awareness for cancer prevention has become my passion," she says. "I will go to the ends of the earth to make a difference, especially when it means one less person will experience the excruciating and painful loss of a loved one. With all CPIC is doing to stop cancer, there's no other option than to jump on board and lend a hand, and I feel privileged to do so in honor of my mother.


Join Hilary by honoring or remembering your mother with a gift to CPIC




Thanks to Thousands of Women, the Future of Preventive Medicine is in the Freezer

As part of our partnership with the Stanford Cancer Institute, CPIC scientists have a new forum for sharing their thoughts on cancer prevention and health, through contributions to the widely read Stanford School of Medicine’s blog, Scope. CPIC Research Scientist Christina Clarke, Ph.D., recently penned the third CPIC post, “The Future of Preventive Medicine is in the Freezer.” Dr. Clarke’s piece ranked among the most read on the blog, explaining the importance of blood specimens contributed generously by healthy California Teacher’s Study participants and how scientists at CPIC and partner institutions will use them to make discoveries about disease development and prevention. “For scientists, these ‘pre-diagnostic’ blood samples are likely to contain new biological clues of disease, perhaps molecular flags that cancerous cells are multiplying, or immunological rumblings as the immune system responds to the first signs of disease,” Dr. Clarke says. “Finding these signals is critical to future prevention, as they could represent the basis for blood tests or other means of ultra-early detection of disease.”


Read more of Dr. Clarke's popular post




The Pipeline: Do Genes Related to a Man’s Internal Body Clock Affect Prostate Cancer Risk?

With new funding, a unique study to better understand prostate cancer risk led by CPIC Director of Research Ann Hsing, Ph.D., has recently launched. Variations in what are known as circadian-related genes may affect prostate cancer development. There are about 30 of these genes, which regulate the human body’s circadian rhythm, or “internal body clock.” Circadian rhythm, in turn, regulates the 24-hour cycle of biological processes. Through this study, Dr. Hsing and her team will determine if variations in these circadian-related genes put African Americans and Caucasians at higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Because African Americans suffer from a disproportionate burden of prostate cancer, to better understand this disparity, Dr. Hsing and her team will also determine whether the variations in circadian-related genes affect prostate cancer risk differently between Caucasians and African Americans.


Learn more about Dr. Hsing’s recently funded study




Behind the Scenes at CPIC: Helping CPIC Win Research Grants

We regularly feature our latest grant awards, but winning grants doesn’t happen overnight. Multiple CPIC staff members collaborate in this complex process enabling our cancer research studies and, by extension, the findings that result from them. First, in response to a funding opportunity, a CPIC scientist sends CPIC’s Grants & Contracts (G&C) group the first pieces of a grant proposal, including a research project idea. G&C works with the scientist to develop the proposal and create a detailed project budget, studying and ensuring adherence to the particular and often-complex guidelines of the funding agency. After gathering and incorporating information from any research partners involved, G&C submits the proposal to the funding agency. If it’s considered for funding, G&C often must submit additional documents and negotiate terms before funding is finalized. “Our scientists generate brilliant ideas that need to be packaged carefully,” says G&C Manager Yelena Farberova. “If a proposal doesn’t meet funding agency requirements, a groundbreaking research idea could easily be overlooked and go unfunded, which is why our work in Grants & Contracts is so important.”




May Melanoma and Skin Cancer Prevention: Continued Policy Impact of CPIC Melanoma Findings

As we’ve reported previously, CPIC findings on increasing melanoma rates in young women influenced a 2012 California law that made the state the first in the nation to ban the use of UV indoor tanning beds for all minors under age 18. This has led to a growing trend, with other states following California’s lead – including New Jersey, just last month. The impact of the CPIC-influenced California law on other states’ legislation is helping to protect more and more minors across the nation from the carcinogenic effects of tanning bed use. It’s important for people of all ages to avoid tanning beds and other sources of UV exposure to reduce risk of skin cancers, which are the most common cancers in the U.S. For more information on how you can reduce your risk of skin cancer, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s skin cancer prevention webpage or listen to this CDC podcast on skin cancer prevention.


Read article, “New Jersey Bans Minors from Tanning Beds”