September 15, 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

Dance for a Reason Benefit Performance for Cancer Prevention at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Tuesday, November 10th Artists from American Ballet Theater, San Francisco Ballet, Alonzo King LINES Ballet and others announced; Tickets Available now:

San Francisco, CA (September 15, 2015) - DanceFAR and the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC) have joined together again this year to produce a spectacular evening of world-class dance for the benefit of cancer prevention research and education. Tickets are available now at for the DanceFAR 2015 performance and after-party to be held Tuesday, November 10th at 7 p.m. at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater and Forum. 

Inspired by this year’s theme “We Dance For A Reason,” DanceFAR co-founders James Sofranko, Garen Scribner,  and Margaret Karl are bringing together acclaimed local and international artists including Marcelo Gomes and Stella Abrera, principal dancers with American Ballet Theater; guest artists to be announced from San Francisco Ballet, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Smuin Ballet, Silicon Valley Ballet, Art of Teknique, and Garrett + Moulton Productions; and Garen Scribner, currently appearing on Broadway in An American in Paris. A complete roster of artists will be announced in mid-October.     

“We dance for a reason and that reason is to prevent cancer,” said DanceFAR Co-Founder James Sofranko. “In addition to raising funds, we are partnering with CPIC to raise awareness of the importance of cancer prevention, an area of cancer research that is surprisingly underfunded.”

“Our event resonates with people – patients, survivors, family members, friends and colleagues – because cancer touches everyone,” said DanceFAR Co-Founder Garen Scribner. “We are honored to support the critical, cutting-edge research and education initiatives of CPIC again this year.”

“We are pleased to announce that Sam Bronfman and Tim Dattels are joining us as co-chairs of the DanceFAR 2015 host committee,” said DanceFAR Co-Founder Margaret Karl.  “Our enthusiastic co-chairs have brought together a stellar committee, including Bill and Navid Armstrong, Richard Barker, Joy Boatwright, Jack Calhoun, Marianne Jackson, Carl and Yurie Pascarella, and Pete Sittnick.”

“We envision a world where cancer is a disease of the past and this is what we work toward every day,” said CPIC Chief Executive Officer Donna Randall, Ph.D.  “As a freestanding research institute, we impact lives through a unique combination of skills, expertise and strategic partnerships that make us truly distinctive.”
CPIC’s researchers study a wide range of cancer risk factors to determine how these factors affect frequency, distribution and types of cancers.  On average, one in two people will develop cancer in their lifetimes and CPIC is committed to finding out why.

World-renowned scientists at CPIC have been able to identify reasons for melanoma in young California girls, demonstrate the effects of secondhand smoke on women, and study the prevalence of the BRCA1 gene in nonwhite women.  These findings have led to legislation, education and screening aimed at preventing various cancers.

CPIC’s programs help reduce the burden of cancer by providing information on how to manage treatment side effects and deal with issues of daily living – nutrition, employment, talking with children, health insurance and more.

But cancer prevention research receives less than 5 percent of federal cancer research dollars.  The drastic reductions in government funding for cancer research over the last ten years have stalled many innovative projects.  CPIC research and education initiatives, more and more, depend on private funding to survive.  “We are grateful for the ongoing support of our DanceFAR co-founders, committee chairs and members, sponsors and partners,” Dr. Randall said.  “Our annual dance event allows us to sustain and build vital cancer prevention studies and educational programs.”

About the Organizers
DanceFAR was founded in 2012 by San Francisco Ballet dancers Garen Scribner, James Sofranko and Margaret Karl as a way to give back to the community and encourage volunteerism, providing a platform for artists to share their talents while contributing to charitable causes. Its inaugural event took place June 6th, 2012 to a sold-out house of over 900 seats at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco and featured a beautiful after-party in the legendary Green Room.  The 2013 and 2014 events, which were held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, both achieved similar success.  The DanceFAR team is proud to have raised almost $300,000 for CPIC over the last three years.

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, can make our vision of a world without cancer a reality. For more information, visit CPIC’s official website at

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