January 27, 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.

Registration is now open for the breast cancer conference on March 19 – attend for only $20



Registration is now open for the 15th Annual Allison Taylor Holbrooks/Barbara Jo Johnson Breast Cancer Conference  

On Saturday, March 19th cancer specialists from leading medical institutions will discuss breast cancer treatment and related issues at the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio San Francisco. 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.

Topics that will be addressed at the 15th Annual Allison Taylor Holbrooks/Barbara Jo Johnson Breast Cancer Conference: A Look At Where We Are Now – Moving Forward include breast cancer treatment, DCIS, sexuality and intimacy, side effect management, reconstructive surgery, triple negative breast cancer, lymphedema, managing emotions, and fitness and nutrition. Local and national information resources will also be available. More



How CPIC got in front of cancer in 2015

In 2015, the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC) took a huge leap forward on fulfilling our mission to prevent cancer and reduce its burden where it cannot yet be prevented. Take a look at some of our key research findings and highlights of our community impact. More


CPIC CEO Donna Randall shares her perspective on Biden’s “Moonshot” plan to cure cancer 

Vice President Joe Biden’s “Moonshot” plan to cure cancer, as President Obama stated in his final State of the Union address earlier this month, has resolved to "break down silos and bring all the cancer fighters together—to work together, share information, and end cancer as we know it.” More


Text messaging may improve abnormal mammogram follow-up

CPIC researchers Ingrid Oakley-Girvan and Sharon Watkins-Davis conducted a study to evaluate the effectiveness of using text messaging to follow-up with 29 Latina women who received abnormal mammogram test results. 

Thirteen women in the study received a text message within one day of receipt of results while the remaining 16 women received a text message four weeks later. The group that received a text message within a day returned for a follow-up visit within 23 days, while the other participants did not return for 59 days.

All the women in this study continued to receive usual care in addition to the text message. This simple, low-cost approach may reduce anxiety associated with an abnormal mammogram and for advanced cases may result in better treatment options for breast cancer. 


CPIC Board of Trustees welcomes a new chair and two new members 

CPIC Board of Trustee member Lou Weller assumed the role of chair earlier this month. Weller, who joined the board of trustees in 2010, succeeds Sam Bronfman II who will remain a trustee. Two new board members, Alan Lewis and Thomas T. Thomas, were also elected to the board of trustees.

Lewis has led a number of large and small biopharmaceutical research organizations, including oncology organizations. He is currently the president and CEO of Diavacs.

Thomas is a senior financial executive. Prior to starting his consulting business and his winery, he held leadership positions at Stupski Foundation, Genentech, Del Monte Foods and GE Capital Corporation.


Free book download available in 7 languages: Information For Patients Recently Diagnosed with Cancer

Communication is vital for patients, families, caregivers and health care providers during cancer treatment. With the many questions and issues that arise, individuals often feel overwhelmed.

To facilitate communication for patients, family members, caregivers and the medical team, CPIC developed “Information For Patients Recently Diagnosed with Cancer”.  

This 14-page mini-booklet offers space to record essential information including contact information for the members of the health care team, a list of medications, nutritional considerations, and more. The book, available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Dari, and Farsi, can be downloaded from the CPIC website.

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


January is cervical cancer awareness month

Watch the video featuring CPIC researcher Tina Clarke to learn what you can do to prevent cervical cancer.