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 |

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