February 24, 2016
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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.

February is National Cancer Prevention Month‏


  February is National Cancer Prevention Month 

Download the infographic of our top five tips you should follow to help prevent cancer.

During this month, we’re also reminded of those loved ones who are enduring the burden of cancer or have lost their battle with cancer. A gift made in memory or honor of a loved one to fund cancer prevention research and programs is a meaningful way to pay tribute this month.

  UCSF breast cancer surgeon Dr. Laura Esserman to present at March 19 breast cancer conference 

Dr. Laura Esserman will speak on “Prevention: A Look at Where We Are Now” at the 15th Annual Allison Taylor Holbrooks/Barbara Jo Johnson Breast Cancer Conference on March 19.

Esserman is a breast surgeon and director of the University of California, San Francisco Carol Franc Buck Breast Cancer Society where she co-leads the Breast Oncology Program. Her research is focused on giving patients better access to accurate information so that they can become partners in their health care.

Registration for the conference is only $20. Visit the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC) website for more information on the conference.

  Free download of Living with Cancer book

Living with Cancer is a collection of brief observations and suggestions from people who have been affected by cancer — patients, family members, friends and caregivers.

The popular, pocket-sized book, available in English and Spanish, touches upon a variety of topics including decision-making, fear, hope, humor, children, finances and more. 

Visit the CPIC website to download your copy.

Community support and medical centers can contact the community education department to request printed copies of the book.

   CPIC researchers collaborate on two studies recognized in NCI’s Research Highlights for 2015

Each year, the National Cancer Institute’s Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program (EGRP) recognizes a small number of publications deemed to have the greatest potential scientific or public health impact for the EGRP Research Highlights. For 2015, two studies co-authored by CPIC researchers have been selected.

In the study co-authored by Esther John, data from the Breast Cancer Family Registry and many other international studies were used to evaluate the risk of breast and ovarian cancer according to the type and location of mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

Iona Cheng collaborated on a study showing that genetics make it more difficult for some people to quit smoking, putting them as greater risk for lung cancer.

Both studies are highlighted on the National Cancer Institute’s EGRP website and in their January newsletter.

  CPIC Senior Research Scientist Peggy Reynolds reappointed to the governor’s carcinogen committee

The Carcinogen Identification Committee is a group of scientists appointed by Governor Brown to identify chemicals that have been shown to cause cancer in the state of California as required under Proposition 65.

CPIC Senior Research Scientist Peggy Reynolds, who has served since 2012, was reappointed to the committee earlier this month.

 Now in effect - rules for tax-free IRA transfers for charitable purposes

Effective with the 2015 tax year, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 allows an individual who has reached age 70 ½ to transfer up to $100,000 from a tax-deferred IRA directly to a qualifying 501(c)(3) charity, such as CPIC, tax-free. Consult your tax attorney for details. You can also learn about other ways to give on the CPIC website.