December 21, 2015
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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.

Delaying Chemotherapy in Breast Cancer Patients Reduces Overall Survival

December 2015


New Study Finds Delaying Chemotherapy in Breast Cancer Patients Reduces Overall Survival Rate

A new study finds delaying the start of adjuvant chemotherapy for more than 90 days following surgery may significantly increase the risk of death for breast cancer patients, particularly those with triple-negative breast cancer.

Researchers found those most likely to have delayed chemotherapy share these characteristics - low socioeconomic status, Hispanic or African-American descent and those with Medicare and Medicaid coverage. The Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC) Research Scientist Christina A. Clarke, Ph.D., and Epidemiologist in Surveillance Research Daphne Y. Lichtensztajn, M.D., served as co-authors of this study. Read the press release from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.


Breast Cancer Family Registry Reaches 20 Year Milestone

In 1995, the National Cancer Institute established the Breast Cancer Family Registry at six international centers to study the genetic origins of breast cancer.

To find the genes that cause breast cancer and identify high risk factors in women, a breast cancer patient, her sisters, mother, and other relatives are asked to participate in a study.

The Northern California Family Registry for Breast Cancer at CPIC has enrolled and followed 4,000 multigenerational families for 20 years.

The information gathered through this study has contributed many new insights into the genetics of breast cancer.

Among these enrolled participants, there is a substantial representation of racial/ethnic minority families (accounting for 75 percent of families enrolled) and families with triple negative breast cancers - a particularly difficult to treat type of breast cancer.

View the infographic for an overview of the major milestones.


Esther M. John Named CPIC Director of Research

Esther M. John Ph.D., M.S.P.H., a well-respected cancer epidemiologist in the scientific community, was appointed director of research for CPIC last month. She has been with CPIC since 1994. Dr. John is also a consulting professor in the Department of Health Research and Policy at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and co-leader of population sciences at the Stanford Cancer Institute.

Her research focuses on identifying factors that contribute to racial/ethnic disparities in breast and prostate cancer development and prognosis. Dr. John collaborates with many research groups, and leads the Northern California site of several international multicenter studies, including the Breast Cancer Family Registry, the WECARE (Women's Environment Cancer and Radiation Epidemiology) study, and the LEGACY Girls Study.


Donor Profile – Sandi Farrell

Sandi Farrell worked for CPIC for over 20 years before retiring this past summer. Her story serves as an important reminder that each of us has the capacity to give and of the many ways to do so. Over the duration of her career with CPIC, she chose to donate a percentage of her salary to CPIC through a tax-deductible payroll deduction.

She began her career at CPIC as a part-time receptionist which eventually led to a role of providing administrative support to the community education program and development office. In this role, she experienced firsthand the importance of our community education programs for cancer survivors. She later served as the executive assistant to the CEO and Board of Trustees. 

Like so many of us, she lost a loved one to cancer – her father. She chose to give to CPIC because she strongly believes in cancer prevention. In her words, “I was proud to work with an organization that is working to prevent cancer so other families won't have to experience the loss of a loved one from this disease.”

Does your company offer an employer giving match program? Contact us to share your company information.


15th Annual Breast Cancer Conference – Save the Date

On Saturday, March 19th breast cancer survivors, family and friends are invited to gather in San Francisco at the Presidio to hear cancer specialists from leading medical institutions address breast cancer treatment and related issues at the 15th Annual Allison Taylor Holbrooks/Barbara Jo Johnson Breast Cancer Conference.

The goal of the conference is to help patients, families, friends and health care providers to understand their options so that informed decisions about health and health care can be made. Local and national information resources will also be available.

Registration will open in January. The fee is only $20 and no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Space is limited.

Visit the CPIC website to learn more about the conference or to request a brochure.


Rosemary and Pear Muffins – A Recipe from the Cancer-Fighting Kitchen Cookbook 

This month we’re sharing another recipe from the The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen cookbook featuring 150 nutrient-rich and easy-to-prepare recipes that will help to stimulate the appetite and relieve some of the treatment side effects for cancer patients.

For many of us, the holidays are about enjoying warm baked goods. These rosemary and pear muffins are quick and easy to make and offer health benefits. Rosemary aids with digestion, circulation and immune function.

Since these muffins are small, cancer patients, who often don’t have a strong appetite, won’t be overwhelmed by their size.


Get the Latest on Personalized Medicine & the Patient Experience 

How is today’s patient experience different than before due to the emergence of personalized medicine and the Affordable Care Act? At the Personalized Medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2016 Silicon Valley, a “real world” patient experience will be examined through multiple lenses.

From diagnosis and treatment to ongoing disease management and paying for advanced care, the convergence of scientific advancement and a challenging medical economy has created a new paradigm. What is working and what challenges remain? Get educated at PMWC 2016 SV, co-hosted with Stanford Health Care and the University of California, San Francisco on January 24-27 alongside leaders from healthcare, medical research and drug development, health regulators, and representatives from the insurance industry, as well as patients and patient advocates. Learn more.