September 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 Releases Latest Cancer Trends Among Groups

September 2013

Dear Get In Front Supporter,

As summer is winding down, CPIC is gearing up! We’ve just released ten fact sheets, which – for the first time - break down cancer incidence for the nation’s largest Asian American groups. We’re proud, also, to announce that since our last newsletter, we’ve won 8 grants and 1 major contract, together totaling over $5.1 million in support of our cancer research work. We have some exciting events coming up, too, and in anticipation of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, we’ve just launched our Prevent Breast Cancer campaign. Join us!

CPIC Releases Series of “Cancer Facts” Detailing Trends in Asian American Groups

As reported in the last issue of In Front, findings from CPIC’s first major study of national cancer incidence trends among Asian American groups - which were featured on the radio and in international media outlets - revealed increasing rates among certain groups, suggesting the need for targeted prevention and/or screening efforts. As a follow up to that report, CPIC has released 10 fact sheets, breaking down the incidence trends for each of the nation’s eight largest Asian American subgroups: Asian Indians/Pakistanis, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, Kampucheans (Cambodians), Laotians, Vietnamese, Native Hawaiians, and Samoans.

Learn more about cancer trends in each of these groups

Tickets for 2nd Annual Get In Front Performance on Sale this Month!

It’s an evening not to be missed! After last year’s sold out Get In Front performance, the Bay Area’s most celebrated dance companies will again join together for a one-night-only performance and after-party on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at 7pm to benefit CPIC. Tickets go on sale starting Tuesday, September 17th, and this year will include not only the performance, but also access to a celebratory after party. Event sponsors will also enjoy a VIP pre-performance cocktail reception. Both reception and after-party will be held at the LAM Research Theater Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. This year’s performances will be offered by some of the best from the Bay Area dance community, including San Francisco Ballet, ODC/Dance, Smuin Ballet, Ballet San Jose, Robert Moses' Kin, AXIS Dance Company, Zhukov Dance Theater, and more. The evening will showcase ballet and contemporary works from some of the world’s most renowned choreographers. Visit for more information or purchase tickets on or after September 17th by visiting or calling (415) 978-2787.

Get In Front of cancer with us on 11-12-13!

Partner with us to Prevent Breast Cancer and You May Win a Two-Night Stay!

More than half of CPIC’s resources are dedicated to researching the causes, prevention, and changing patterns of breast cancer – the most common cancer occurring among women and the second leading cause of cancer death. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and in anticipation of that, we’re asking you to support CPIC and our work to prevent breast cancer, especially from September 11 through October 31, 2013, as part of CPIC’s first-ever Prevent Breast Cancer campaign. Those who donate $100 or more will have the chance to win a gift certificate for a two-night stay at the PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn, located on the beautiful north shore of Lake Tahoe, just steps away from the legendary ski lifts of Squaw Valley USA. CPIC’s track record of breast cancer-related work is strong and our findings are often the subject of local and even international news stories. Don’t miss this opportunity to support future groundbreaking results from our breast cancer research team. If you agree that preventing breast cancer is better than having to treat it, join us!

Join us in preventing breast cancer and helping survivors

The Pipeline: How Does the Air We Breathe Affect Our Health?

Eight grants and one major contract were funded since our last issue of In Front. One of CPIC’s newest environmental studies involves a focus on the best ways to evaluate the health effects of our exposure to airborne particulate matter, which includes dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets emitted into the air. CPIC’s study team, led by CPIC Research Scientist Peggy Reynolds, Ph.D., will be applying air quality metrics newly developed by colleagues at UC Davis to evaluate the association of air quality with mortality outcomes among women in the California Teachers Study. The new metrics are hypothesized to be the most realistic methods of calculating and measuring air quality in order to assess regional population-level exposure to airborne particulate matter across the entire continental United States.

Learn more about our recently funded work

Free Evening Caregiving Seminar Series Starts This Month

As too many of us know, the patient is not the only person an illness impacts. Family members, friends, and other people who assume the role of caregiver to the patient face particular responsibilities, issues, and conflicts that can be challenging. To discuss these topics interactively and offer solutions and resources, CPIC – together with The Stanford Health Library, Stanford Hospital and Clinics, and Stanford Cancer Institute - will host the 2013-2014 Caregiving Seminar Series. Caregivers for all illnesses and conditions are invited. Each seminar will take place from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Stanford Health Library’s Hoover Pavilion at 211 Quarry Road in Palo Alto, California. Conference faculty includes patients and individuals from Bay Area medical institutions, including Stanford, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Cancer Care Point, Avenidas Care Partners, Caring Hands Caregivers, Benefits Education Center, Keegin Harrison, Schoppert Smith Karner, LLP, and private practice. The seminars are offered free of charge, but registration is required for each seminar, due to limited space. To register, please call (650) 498-7826.

Find out more about the conference topics