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Why prevention is key to CBCRP - the most successful state-funded breast cancer research program in the country

The California Breast Cancer Research Program (CBCRP), the exclusive Survivor Champion sponsor of the CPIC 16th Annual Breast Cancer Conference, is the most successful state-funded breast cancer research program in the country. CBCRP was founded over 20 years ago when California breast cancer activists joined forces with scientists, healthcare professionals, and state legislators to win passage of legislation to fund breast cancer and education initiatives in the state. Learn more about the work of the organization and how far it has come to fulfill its mission to eliminate breast cancer in this interview with Katherine McKenzie, clinical and prevention sciences program officer, at CBCRP.

What does CBCRP do?

Since 1994, CBCRP has funded $267 million in research to institutions and community organizations throughout the state to advance our knowledge about the prevention, detection, treatment and community impact of breast cancer. In 2016 alone, CBCRP granted nearly $10 million in research awards.

When and why was the organization founded?

In 1993, breast cancer activists, most of them women who had survived or had breast cancer, were impatient with the slow pace of progress against the disease. With their allies, they wrote and won passage of statewide legislation to push breast cancer research in new, creative directions. 

Do advocates continue to play a role in CBCRP today?

Absolutely. Advocates are heavily involved in research funding and planning decisions as we want our research to inform the broader public — reaching beyond the breast cancer research and advocacy community to influence policy and increase community understanding of the disease.

Their participation reminds us that breakthroughs are not meant to languish in scientific journals, but instead should be used to make a greater impact against the disease.

How is CBCRP funded?

The California Breast Cancer Act increased the tobacco tax by 2¢ per pack, with 45 percent of the revenue going to CBCRP. Additional support to CBCRP is provided by voluntary tax contributions made on personal California income tax forms and individual donations.

How significantly are Californians impacted by breast cancer?

Over 300,000 California women are living with breast cancer. Breast cancer can affect women of all ages and races, and approximately 80 percent of women who develop breast cancer have no family history of the disease. In California alone, more than 4,300 women die of breast cancer every year — that's more than 11 women every day who die from the disease.

How big of a priority is cancer prevention research to CBCRP’s mission?

Extremely important. The mission of the California Breast Cancer Research Program is to prevent and eliminate breast cancer by leading innovation in research, communication, and collaboration in the California scientific and lay communities. 

We encourage research that aims to reduce disparities, to identify the environmental and biological causes of breast cancer along with the sociocultural, behavioral and psychological issues of those at high risk or affected by breast cancer. 

Our ultimate goal is to prevent the disease and CPIC’s work is directly aligned with the areas of need we’ve identified as necessary to push the field forward. 

CBCRP has supported several CPIC studies over the years along with this year’s support for the Annual Breast Cancer Conference. Why is CPIC’s work important to CBCRP?

CPIC investigators are tackling projects that fill our knowledge gaps in critical areas of breast cancer research. These areas include the effect of the environment on our health, uncovering the many factors that contribute to breast cancer causation in diverse populations and providing the scientific basis for developing practical interventions and changes to health policy. The CPIC studies that CBCRP has supported uphold our commitment to innovation and addressing unmet needs in the field of breast cancer research.

© Cancer Prevention Institute of California