August 18, 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.

Press Releases

The Cancer Prevention Institute of California Releases Annual Cancer Incidence and Mortality Review for Greater Bay Area

Rates of overall cancer incidence declined substantially from 1988 to 2012  

FREMONT, CA (August 18, 2015) - Fewer people in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area are getting cancer and, of those who do, fewer are dying from it, according to researchers at the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC)

From 1988 to 2012, the most recent 25-year period for which data are available, the occurrence of all new cancers combined declined by 13.2 percent overall, and by 19.2 percent among males and 7.4 percent among females in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, according to the newly released 2015 Annual Cancer Incidence and Mortality Review.  The review provides a summary of the most current cancer statistics, with an emphasis on the latest five years of available cancer diagnoses and mortality data (2008-2012) for the Greater Bay Area. 

Among men, the decline of overall cancer incidence was largely due to declines in smoking-related cancers, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer. Among women, the decline has been due primarily to lower rates of smoking-related cancers, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and cervical cancer.

From 2008 through 2012, there were 155,303 new cases of cancer diagnosed in the Greater Bay Area. The five most common invasive cancers are breast, prostate, lung and bronchus, colorectal, and melanoma. These cancers accounted for 55% of all cases diagnosed during this time.

 In addition to the lower incidence of cancer overall, particularly for smoking-related cancers, the researchers observed lower overall mortality rates, with smoking-related cancers decreasing the most. 

“We continue to observe a downward trend in deaths due to cancer across the region,” said Christina A. Clarke, Ph.D., research scientist at CPIC.  “The rate of death from cancer is lower in the BayArea than in other parts of California and the rest of the country.”

For the period between 2008 and 2012, there were 145.8 deaths per 100,000 cases in the Bay Area, which was lower than the statewide rate of 154.6 per 100,000, and lower than the national rate of 173.8 per 100,000. 

CPIC operates the Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry as part of the California Cancer Registry and collects information on all newly diagnosed cancers occurring in residents of the Greater Bay Area counties, including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz.

The report breaks down incidence and mortality rates by cancer type, gender, and racial/ ethnic background, and provides regional, statewide and national comparisons. Key highlights of the five most common cancers diagnosed among Bay Area residents are listed below.
  • Breast Cancer 
o Most commonly diagnosed cancer among Greater Bay Area females.
o Rates have declined dramatically since 2003 among white women.
o Rates were stable for black women and declined at 0.4 percent per year for Hispanic women.
o Rates increased significantly among non-Hispanic Asian-Pacific Islander (NH API) women.
o Mortality rates declined in all racial/ethnic groups. 
o Black women have the highest mortality rates (29.5 per 100,000), followed by white women (22.2 per 100,000).
  • Prostate Cancer
o Most commonly diagnosed cancer among Greater Bay Area males.
o Compared to males in all of California, males in the Greater Bay Area had higher prostate cancer incidence rates in all racial/ethnic groups. 
o Rates are highest among black men (201.8 per 100,000 compared to 144.1 for white men).
o Prostate cancer mortality rates have steadily declined for all racial/ethnic groups by an average of 3.7% per year since 1991. 
o Mortality rate is nearly double for black compared to white men.
  • Lung and Other Smoking-Related Cancers
o Rates continued to decrease by an average of 1.8 percent per year over the 25-year period from 1988 to 2012 across all racial/ethnic groups.
o Despite declines, lung cancer continues to be the second most common cancer diagnosis in the Greater Bay Area.
o Rates are highest among black men and women, followed by white men and women.
o Mortality rates declined among all racial/ethnic groups in the Greater Bay Area by 3.2 percent per year since 2001.
o Lung cancer still accounts for more than one in four cancer deaths nationwide.
o Cancers known or thought to be smoking-related include cancers of the lung, oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus, stomach, colorectum, liver, pancreas, larynx, uterine cervix, bladder, kidney and acute myeloid leukemia. 
  • Colorectal Cancer
o Third most commonly diagnosed cancer among Greater Bay Area men and women.
o Incidence rates have declined for both genders over time, but most significantly in men – 6.3 percent per year.
o Incidence rates are highest among blacks (50.3 per 100,000), followed by whites (40.3 per 100,000).
o Hispanics and NH APIs have similar rates, but recent studies show rates may be increasing among certain Asian ethnic groups (Koreans, South Asians, and Filipinos) due to lower screening rates.
o Mortality rates have declined over the past 25 years, except in black and Hispanic men.
  •  Melanoma
o Third most common invasive cancer diagnosed among white males in the Greater Bay Area.
o Incidence rates are seven times higher among whites than Hispanics, and extremely low among blacks and NHAPIs.
o Over the past decade, melanoma incidence rates among whites have been significantly higher and increasing more rapidly in the Greater Bay Area than in California. 
o Mortality rates decreased slightly for all races/ethnicities, but are twice as high among white men compared to white women, a difference that is poorly understood.

Please read the full review for a comprehensive overview of incidence and mortality rates in the Greater Bay Area. The appendices provide detailed charts of cancer incidence and mortality by race/ethnicity, including select Asian ethnic subgroups.

About the Cancer Prevention Institute of California
The Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC) 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

Media Contact: Jana Cuiper, 510-608-5160 |