June 5, 2018
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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

Overall Cancer Cases and Deaths Continue to Decline for the Greater Bay Area

For Some Cancers, Incidence Rates Are Increasing Among All Racial/Ethnic Groups 

FREMONT, CA (June 5, 2018) — The rates of newly diagnosed cancer cases (incidence) and deaths (mortality) decreased significantly over the past 28 years according to the newly released report from the Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry at the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC). 

The report summarizes the current rates for new cancer cases and cancer deaths for the most common cancers in the Greater Bay Area, with an emphasis on the most recent five years (2011-2015) for which data are available. 

The Greater Bay Area is one of the most ethnically diverse regions in the country with a total population of approximately 7 million. The Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry, operated by CPIC as part of the California Cancer Registry, collects information according to state law on all newly diagnosed cancers in residents of nine Greater Bay Area counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz).

California cancer incidence and mortality rates have been tracked since 1988. Monitoring cancer rates is important for understanding who gets cancer, and what cancer types are increasing or decreasing in incidence or mortality. This allows us to understand the impact of cancer prevention and screening programs.

From 2011-2015, the annual rate of newly diagnosed cancer cases declined by an average of 15 percent among males and 4.2 percent among females in the Greater Bay Area. During this time period, there were 157,159 new cancer cases diagnosed in the Greater Bay Area. In 2015 alone, 31,361 new cases of cancer were diagnosed. 

Decreasing incidence of some types of cancers is due in part to greater uptake of cancer screening and improved prevention such as the increase in colorectal cancer screening and the reduction in the number of smokers.

For both males and females, the rates of newly diagnosed cancers declined for several cancer sites including colorectal, lung, bladder, and stomach cancers over the past 10 years alone. Mortality rates also declined for several of the most common cancers over this time period including colorectal, lung and stomach cancers.

Across racial/ethnic groups, the overall rate of newly diagnosed cancer was highest for black males and white females. Asians/Pacific Islanders had the lowest overall rate of newly diagnosed cancer for both males and females.

Over the most recent five-year period, lung, breast, prostate, colorectal, and pancreatic cancer deaths collectively accounted for 50 percent of all cancer deaths in the Greater Bay Area. 

According to Scarlett Lin Gomez, Director of the Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry, “While we continue to observe declining incidence rates across many cancers, the incidence rates of some cancers are increasing among particular racial/ethnic groups. Increased attention needs to be focused on the reasons for these increases, and on directing effective prevention strategies toward these groups.” 

The report highlights data on new cancer cases and cancer death rates by cancer site, sex, and racial/ethnic background, and provides regional and statewide comparisons. Key highlights for the five most common cancers among Greater Bay Area residents are listed below.

Breast Cancer 
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Greater Bay Area females accounting for about one-third of all invasive cancers diagnosed annually.
  • From 2011 through 2015, 25,603 new invasive breast cancers were diagnosed in women in the Greater Bay Area, and 128,158 in California. 
  • From 1988 through 2015, the incidence rates for white and Hispanic women declined, while the rate for Asian/Pacific Islander women increased. For black women, the rate has remained stable.
  • The Greater Bay Area rate of newly diagnosed breast cancers for all races/ethnicities combined was significantly higher than California.
  • Breast cancer death rates declined in all racial/ethnic groups from 1988-2015. 
  • From 2011 through 2015, breast cancer death rates varied by race/ethnicity, with the highest rate in black women (28.6 per 100,000) followed by white women (20.9). 
 Prostate Cancer
  • Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Greater Bay Area males.
  • Among all men, a significant decline in the incidence rate of cancer was observed from 2010 through 2015 with an average decline of 12.3 percent per year. 
  • Compared to all of California, Greater Bay Area males had a higher rate of new prostate cancers from 2011-2015.
  • Prostate cancer death rates have steadily declined for all racial/ethnic groups by an average of 3.6 percent per year since 1991. 
  • The prostate cancer death rate in black males was five times the rate in Asian/Pacific Islander males, nearly triple the rate in Hispanics and more than twice the rate in whites from 2011 through 2015.
Lung and Bronchus Cancer
  • The rate of new lung cancer cases for all Greater Bay Area residents combined continued to decrease by an average of 3 percent per year from 2007 through 2015.
  • Despite declining rates, lung cancer continues to be the second most common cancer diagnosis among males and females in the Greater Bay Area.
  • Lung and bronchus cancer remains a top contributor to cancer deaths, linked to 22.3 percent of all male cancer deaths and 21.6 percent of all females cancer deaths from 2011-2015.
  • New lung and bronchus cancer cases and death rates were highest among black males and females
  • Melanoma is the second most common cancer diagnosed among white males in the Greater Bay Area. 
  • From 2011-2015, the incidence of melanoma was almost eight times higher among whites than Hispanics, and low among blacks and Asians/Pacific Islanders.
  • From 2008 through 2015, the incidence rate of melanoma increased at an average of 3.1 percent per year. This rate of increase was significantly lower than the 8.2 percent average increase observed from 2002-2008. 
  • Over the past decade, the rate of new melanoma cases diagnosed among whites has been significantly higher and increased more rapidly in the Greater Bay Area than in California overall. 
  • Melanoma death rates decreased for females since 2009 by an average of 6.5% per year; however, for males, mortality rates have remained stable.
  • The death rate was twice as high among white men, compared to white women, a difference that is poorly understood.
Colorectal Cancer
  • Colorectal cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer among Greater Bay Area males and females.
  • Colorectal cancer is more common among males than females.
  • From 2011-2015, the rate for blacks was higher than for other racial/ethnic groups in both males (49.2 per 100,000) and females (43.4).
  • Newly diagnosed colorectal cancer rates for white and black males in the Greater Bay Area were lower than in California for 2011-2015. For Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander males, rates in the Greater Bay Area were similar to rates in California.
  • For females, rates in the Greater Bay Area were similar to rates in California for all racial/ethnic groups from 2011-2015.
  • The rate of new cancer cases and deaths has declined among men and women in all racial/ethnic groups since 1988.
Read the full review for a comprehensive overview of new cancer cases and mortality rates in the Greater Bay Area. 
This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. HHSN261201300005I.The collection of cancer incidence data used in this study was supported by the California Department of Public Health pursuant to California Health and Safety Code Section 103885; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Program of Cancer Registries, under cooperative agreement 5NU58DP003862-04/DP003862. 

About the Cancer Prevention Institute of California
The Cancer Prevention Institute of California is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing cancer and to reducing its burden where it cannot yet be prevented. We are the only freestanding research institution working solely to prevent cancer using extensive population data. Our researchers study a wide range of cancer risk factors, such as racial/ethnic background, socioeconomic status, age, occupation, gender, genetic predisposition, geographic location, environment and lifestyle to determine how these factors affect frequency, distribution and types of cancers. For more information, visit the CPIC website at www.cpic.org. 

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