January 1, 2014
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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-authored Article Among Journal's Top 10

January 2014 

Dear Get in Front Supporter

On the heels of very actively publishing our research findings in 2013, we at CPIC are off to a fast start in the new year, announcing new findings and important grants, a new website, and national recognition for a CPIC scientist’s innovative cancer prevention idea. You may read more below, and also please be sure to save the date for our upcoming Get In Front Mother’s Day Garden Breakfast on Sunday, May 4th in Atherton, California.

CPIC Scientists Publish Nearly 200 Manuscripts in 2013, Providing “Solid Data to Guide Cancer Prevention Efforts and Policy”

In 2013, despite an increasingly competitive atmosphere for government grant funding, CPIC scientists published nearly 200 manuscripts, representing a range of findings to help prevent cancer and reduce its burden. These include results focusing on genetics, lifestyle factors, and certain cancers and cancer subtypes. Among these findings are the results of a study led by CPIC's Scarlett Gomez, Ph.D., showing that 19-year trends in cancer rates among Asian men and women differed by subgroup. "This study provided solid data to guide cancer prevention efforts and policy in Asian Americans in order to minimize the burden of cancer in this rapidly growing population," said CPIC Chief Scientific Officer Ann Hsing, Ph.D. Also published in 2013, a manuscript of CPIC's Iona Cheng, Ph.D., and collaborators, which demonstrated the influence of an obesity gene on dietary intake, has been selected by the American Journal of Epidemiology as one of the top ten articles of the year. In 2013, CPIC also began increasingly studying cancer survivorship, and developed plans to study microorganisms, as well as the molecules involved in metabolism.

Listen to CPIC Research Scientist Scarlett Gomez, Ph.D., discuss cancer rates among Asian subgroups

Certain Biological Subtypes of Breast Cancer Mean Poorer Survival Among Adolescent and Young Adult Women 

In a recent study, CPIC scientists found that the biological subtype of breast cancer diagnosed in adolescent and young adult women directly affects their risk of dying from the disease. "We have known for a long time that women between the ages of 15 and 39 who have breast cancer are less likely to survive than older women with the disease," said CPIC Research Scientist and lead author of the study Theresa Keegan, Ph.D. "We wanted to know if the biological subtype of breast cancer had anything to do with survival differences, and we definitely found a link." Increasingly, scientists agree that breast cancer is composed of important biological subtypes. These subtypes are defined by the presence (+) or absence (-) of certain molecular markers, including estrogen and progesterone hormone receptors (HR) and the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).

See how the biological subtypes affected survival among adolescent and young women

Introducing the New CPIC.ORG! 

We at CPIC are proud to unveil our refreshed online face by presenting to you our new official website at the same address, www.cpic.org. Several months ago, we realized we needed an online makeover to better communicate with the communities we serve. We wanted to make information more accessible online about who we are, what we do, and why it’s important to you, and after much hard work by a dedicated team, we are happy to announce that our new website is live. Some of the new features include a rotating “Did You Know?” section throughout the site that features quick facts about CPIC, including our work and services, as well as a page that compiles some of CPIC’s most impactful research findings. We hope you appreciate our website’s new features and layout that together more clearly focus on our core research and education programs that have been serving the public for the past 40 years.

Check out the new CPIC.ORG!

The Pipeline: Core Research Resources of CPIC Receive Continued Funding

Four established research initiatives involving CPIC scientists received grant funding since the last issue of In Front. Among these are the California Teachers Study and the Northern California Family Registry for Breast Cancer, which are large-scale, long-term, collaborative research studies. Providing the platform for a large number of smaller, targeted studies, these core research resources involve the recruitment and collection of personal and biological information from thousands of study participants. As part of this work, CPIC scientists track data from these participants to learn about their health outcomes, and then compile these local data with that collected by partnering organizations in other parts of California, the US, and the world. CPIC scientists also lead research studies using these large data resources. To learn more about CPIC’s work as part of the California Teachers Study and CPIC’s Northern California Family Registry for Breast Cancer, visit our “Core Research Resources” page or click on the link below.

Learn more about our recently funded work

CPIC Scientist’s Innovative Idea Makes Final Round of Nationwide Contest Led by Target

The Target Simplicity Challenge, led by Target, is a nationwide search for innovative ideas to “simplify healthcare and help individuals and families improve their health and well-being.” Seeing the Challenge as an opportunity to advance prevention, CPIC Research Scientist Tina Clarke, Ph.D., submitted her idea in October to repackage low-dose aspirin so it’s easier and more appealing to take daily for prevention. Low-dose aspirin can be effective for some people in reducing risk of serious health problems, including strokes, heart attacks, colon cancer and possibly breast cancer. In December, Dr. Clarke learned she’s one of eight finalists whose ideas were selected for public and expert judging, and after presenting her idea at Target headquarters, she’s now awaiting final judging results, which are expected to be announced in mid-January. "If changing aspirin packaging helps more people start taking it regularly who should, these kinds of innovations could be even more important than research in preventing cancer and saving lives," said Dr. Clarke. Check out her idea and video at www.targetsimplicitychallenge.com/gallery.

Read a recent related post by Dr. Clarke on Stanford’s Scope blog