December 6, 2013
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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.

Press Releases

Cigarette Smoking After Cancer Diagnosis Increases Risk of Death

Press release courtesy of the American Association for Cancer Research

Study shows it is not too late to stop smoking after cancer

PHILADELPHIA (Dec. 6, 2013) - Men who continued to smoke after a cancer diagnosis had an increased risk of death compared with those who quit smoking after diagnosis, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Compared with men who did not smoke after a cancer diagnosis, those who smoked after diagnosis had a 59 percent increase in risk of death from all causes, after adjusting for factors including age, cancer site, and treatment type. When limited to men who were smokers at diagnosis, those who continued smoking after diagnosis had a 76 percent increase in risk of death from all causes compared with those who quit smoking after a diagnosis.

“Many cancer patients and their health care providers assume that it is not worth the effort to stop smoking at a time when the damage from smoking has already been done, considering these patients have been diagnosed with cancer,” said Li Tao, M.D., M.S., Ph.D., epidemiologist at the Cancer Prevention Institute of California in Fremont. “Our study provides evidence of the impact of postdiagnosis smoking on survival after cancer, and assists in addressing the critical issue of tobacco control in cancer survivorship.”

When cancer patients who continued smoking after diagnosis were compared with cancer patients who quit smoking after diagnosis, the risk of death varied with different cancer organ sites: risk of death increased by 2.95-fold for bladder cancer patients who continued smoking, 2.36-fold for lung cancer patients who continued smoking, and 2.31-fold for colorectal cancer patients who continued smoking.

“As far as we know, only a fraction of cancer patients who are smokers at diagnosis receive formal smoking cessation counseling from their physicians or health care providers at the time of diagnosis and treatment, and less than half of these patients eventually quit smoking after the diagnosis,” Tao said. “Therefore, there is considerable room for improvement with regard to tobacco control in the postdiagnosis setting for the growing population of cancer survivors.

“Compared with the general population, cancer patients are more likely to receive treatment on an inpatient basis or prolonged outpatient visits,” she added. “Health care providers have an important ‘window of teachable moment’ to engage in tobacco-use counseling during these visits. This piece of solid evidence from our study in establishing the role of cigarette smoking in cancer survival is necessary for implementing and enforcing smoking cessation interventions in order for patients to increase their chances to achieve better outcomes. Policymakers should consider including information on health outcomes of smoking cessation in educational materials for specific intervention programs and policies targeting cancer survivors.”

Tao and colleagues used data from the Shanghai Cohort Study, which is a prospective cohort study investigating the association between lifestyle characteristics and risk of cancer among middle-aged and older men in Shanghai, China. Between 1986 and 1989, 18,244 men were enrolled in the study. Participants were 45 to 64 years old, and completed an in-person interview-based questionnaire about demographics, history of tobacco and alcohol use, diet, and medical history. Data were updated on an annual basis for all surviving cohort members.

By 2010, 3,310 participants were diagnosed with cancer. Of these participants, 1,632 were eligible for this study. Of the eligible study participants, 931 died from any cause. In addition, 340 were nonsmokers, 545 quit smoking before a cancer diagnosis, and 747 were smokers at diagnosis.

Of the 747 smokers at diagnosis, 214 quit after diagnosis, 197 continued smoking consistently, and the remaining 336 smoked intermittently.

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About the American Association for Cancer Research
Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes more than 34,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in more than 90 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 20 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with more than 18,000 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes eight peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients, and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the scientific partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration, and scientific oversight of team science and individual grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer. For more information about the AACR, visit www.AACR.org.


About the Cancer Prevention Institute of California
The Cancer Prevention Institute of California is the nation’s premier organization dedicated to preventing cancer and to reducing its burden where it cannot yet be prevented. CPIC tracks patterns of cancer throughout the entire population and identifies those at risk for developing cancer. Its research scientists are leaders in investigating the causes of cancer in large populations to advance the development of prevention-focused interventions. CPIC’s innovative cancer prevention research and education programs, together with the work of the Stanford Cancer Institute, deliver a comprehensive arsenal for defeating cancer. For more information, visit www.cpic.org.


Media Contact: Jana Cuiper, 510-608-5160 | jana.cuiper@cpic.org