May 21, 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.

New CPIC Thyroid Cancer Findings on the Radio

May 2014 

Dear Get in Front Supporter

If you were unable to attend the Get In Front Mother's Day Garden Brunch earlier this month, consider joining us in celebrating mothers, Cancer Research Month, and Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month by making a gift this May to support CPIC's mission. In addition to others recognized below, we extend our thanks to Pete Sittnick, EPIC Roasthouse, Joy Boatwright, Hilary Newsom, PlumpJack Group, and Geoff Callan for their generosity in making possible recent events to benefit CPIC.



CPIC Study Results Showing Sharp Rise in Thyroid Cancer Featured on Radio

Images:  iStockphoto

CPIC study results on thyroid cancer were just published in the journal, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention and featured on Capitol Public Radio. "Thyroid cancer is increasing at an alarming rate in the population as a whole," said lead author and CPIC Senior Research Scientist Pamela Horn-Ross, Ph.D. According to the investigators, the increase likely relates to modifiable behavioral or environmental factors, as opposed to improved diagnostic capability. Co-author Christina A. Clarke, Ph.D., said, "Armed with a better understanding of how rapidly changing environment or behavior impacts the development of thyroid cancer, appropriate changes could be made to mitigate that risk."


Listen to Dr. Clarke speak about the findings on the radio




Breast Cancer Pioneer Dr. Susan Love to Keynote CPIC's 40th Anniversary Celebration

Susan Love, M.D.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Susan Love
Research Foundation
CPIC is delighted to announce that Susan Love, M.D., a "founding mother" of the breast cancer advocacy movement, will be the keynote speaker at our 40th anniversary celebration on June 26th at Gap Inc. Headquarters in San Francisco. Dr. Love is the author of Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book, termed "the bible for women with breast cancer," and chief visionary officer of Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. "I am so impressed by the long-standing commitment and years of dedication among the scientists and staff at CPIC," said Dr. Love. "They truly are prevention pioneers."

Get tickets to see Dr. Love at our 40th anniversary event supporting cancer prevention




The Pipeline: Do Genes Related to a Woman's Internal Body Clock Affect Her Breast Cancer Risk?

Images:  iStockphoto/Getty Images
Several CPIC projects received funding in the past month. Among these is a new study, led by CPIC Chief Scientific Officer Ann Hsing, Ph.D., to better understand breast cancer risk. Variations in genes that regulate the human body's circadian rhythm - the "internal body clock" - may contribute to breast cancer development. Dr. Hsing and her team are investigating this among Caucasian women, who have higher rates of breast cancer than other groups, and African American women, who tend to have higher rates of aggressive breast cancer subtypes. To better understand factors related to these higher rates, the researchers are examining whether circadian genetic variations contribute differently to breast cancer based on race.

Learn more about this study and our other recently funded work




First-time-ever Get In Front Mother's Day Garden Brunch Raises Nearly $20,000

Image: Danni Ngo
On Sunday, May 4th, individuals and families came together at the Get In Front Mother's Day Garden Brunch to both celebrate mothers and support CPIC's mission to prevent cancer and reduce its burden. A first-time-ever event, the garden brunch raised nearly $20,000. "CPIC extends our deep gratitude to Andrea and Geoff Ralston for generously hosting the brunch at their home and for their dedication in making this event possible," said Dori Ives, CPIC Director of Development and Communications. "We also thank Paula Bennett of The Scout Guide for her extraordinary help in securing silent auction items for both this event and CPIC's upcoming 40th Anniversary celebration.

Click here to view photos from the Get In Front Mother's Day Garden Brunch




May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month

Images:  iStockphoto

Skin cancers are the most common forms of cancer among men and women, and of those, melanomas are the deadliest. CPIC Research Scientist Christina A. Clarke, Ph.D., whose research influenced landmark tanning bed legislation in California, with other states following suit, says, "Melanomas can go from being small and easy to treat to spreading and becoming deadly in as little as six months," so prevention and screening are very important. Anyone can get skin cancer -- to reduce your risk, remember to SLIP on a shirt, SLOP on sunscreen, SLAP on a hat, WRAP on sunglasses, and seek shade between 10 and 4.


Find a free skin cancer screening in your area