February 18, 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.

Press Releases

Disparities Found to Affect Survival for Older Children, Adolescents and Young Adults with Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Cancer Prevention Institute of California study finds lower survival rate for blacks and those treated at centers not affiliated with the National Cancer Institute.

FREMONT, CA (February 17, 2016) — Acute leukemia is the leading cause of cancer death among patients 39 years of age and younger. Without treatment, most patients die within months, if not weeks, of diagnosis. The five-year survival was only about 50% for the most recent treatment period of 2004 – 2011.

In a study led by the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and published in the February issue of the British Journal of Hematology, researchers analyzed 3,935 patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) up to 39 years of age in California from 1988 – 2011.

For this study researchers used data from the California Cancer Registry, which participates in the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first population-based study that simultaneously examined the influence of race/ethnicity, neighborhood socioeconomic status, type of health insurance and treatment facility on survival. 

Researchers found several subgroups of patients with worse survival. They tended to fall into one of these groups: 
· age group (10 – 39 years)
· lower neighborhood socioeconomic status
· black race/ethnicity
· receipt of initial care in hospitals not affiliated with the NCI 
· lack of health insurance 

The diagnosis of AML in older children, adolescents and young adults may require more intensive treatment, which may lead to a higher probability of treatment-related complications. Older children, adolescents and young adults are also less likely to participate in clinical trials and more likely to receive treatment at hospitals not affiliated with the NCI in comparison to younger children.

A significant association was found between lower socioeconomic neighborhoods and early death suggesting that these patients lacked access to optimal treatments during the critical days after initial diagnosis.

It is not clear what factors accounted for the disparities in survival among black patients. Researchers speculate that genetics may contribute to the difference in chemotherapy response or that black patients had less access to chemotherapy and other treatments such as hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

Recent studies have also shown the biology of pediatric AML differs from adult AML which may lead to a favorable prognosis in younger patients. 

Researchers also found evidence of increased early death and lower survival among uninsured patients compared to privately or publicly insured patients. Health insurance information was available in the California Cancer Registry for patients diagnosed from 1996 – 2011. 

“Our study reveals that survival inequalities persist among vulnerable patients with acute myeloid leukemia such as the uninsured, those of black race/ethnicity and adolescents and young adults.” said Renata Abrahão MD, MSc, a visiting research scientist at CPIC and lead author of the study. “This study can serve as a baseline to compare changes in survival that may result from potential improvements in health insurance coverage following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).”

“Moreover, this study showed that survival after AML remains low among young patients and highlights the need for new therapeutic regimens to treat this disease with various subtypes. We emphasized the importance of linking population-based data with genetic and clinical information contained in the patients’ medical records in order to better understand the causes of survival inequalities.”

The work was supported by Children with Cancer UK.

Authors include: Renata Abrahão of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California and the Department of Non-Communicable Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; Ruth Keogh of the Department of Medical Statistics, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; Daphne Lichtensztajn of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California; Rafael Marcos-Gragera of the Epidemiology Unity and Cancer Registry of Girona, Girona Biomedical Research Institute; Bruno Medeiros of the Division of Hematology, Stanford University School of Medicine; Michel Coleman of the Department of Non-Communicable Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; Raul Ribeiro of the Department of Oncology, Leukemia and Lymphoma Division, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Theresa H.M. Keegan in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at the University of California, Davis.

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

Media Contact: 
Donna Lock, 510-608-5160 | donna.lock@cpic.org