The Cancer Prevention Institute of California Releases Annual Cancer Incidence and Mortality Review for the Greater Bay Area

Rates of overall cancer incidence declined substantially from 1988 to 2013

FREMONT, CA (June 14, 2016) 

Over the 26 years between 1988 and 2013, the rates at which people in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area are being diagnosed with cancer and dying from it have been decreasing, according to researchers at the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC)

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 occurring in residents of nine Greater Bay Area counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz).

From 1988 through 2013, the most recent period for which data are available in Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry, the occurrence of all new invasive cancers (those that have invaded surrounding tissue) declined by 15.8 percent overall, by 22.7 percent among males and by 10.9 percent among females, according to CPIC’s 2016 Annual Cancer Incidence and Mortality Review. This newly released report summarizes these current cancer statistics, with an emphasis on the most recent five years of cancer diagnoses and deaths (2009-2013) in the Greater Bay Area. 

Among males the decline in overall cancer incidence between 1988 through 2013 was largely due to declines in smoking-related cancers, especially lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer. Among females, the overall decline was due primarily to lower rates of smoking-related cancers, especially lung cancer, colorectal cancer, ovarian, and cervical cancer.

From 2009 through 2013, there were 156,292 new cases of cancer diagnosed in the Greater Bay Area. The five most common invasive cancer sites in the Greater Bay Area were breast, prostate, lung and bronchus, colorectal, and melanoma. These cancers accounted for over half of all newly diagnosed cases. 

Over this same period, black males had the highest overall incidence rate of invasive cancer. Among females, whites had the highest overall incidence rate. Both Asian/Pacific Islander males and females had the lowest incidence rate. 

“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. “An important reason why is tobacco control, because California’s efforts are some of the most successful in the world. But there is still major room for improvement in the prevention of melanoma and obesity-related cancers.”

The report segments incidence and mortality rates by cancer type, sex, and racial/ethnic background, and provides regional, statewide and national comparisons. Key highlights for incidence and mortality for the five most common cancers diagnosed among Greater Bay Area residents are listed below.

· Breast Cancer 
  • Most commonly diagnosed cancer among Greater Bay Area females.
  • Rates were stable for white and black women and declined at 0.4 percent per year for Hispanic women between 1988 and 2013.
  • Rates increased significantly among Asian/Pacific Islander women at 1.2 percent per year over this same time period.
  • Mortality rates declined in all racial/ethnic groups from 1988 through 2013. 
  • Black women had the highest mortality rates (29.7 per 100,000), followed by white women (21.7 per 100,000).
  • The higher rates of in situ breast cancer (tumors that have not spread) observed in the Greater Bay Area could be associated with regional differences in mammography utilization, or the availability of mammography technology, specifically digital and other technologies more capable of identifying the in situ form of breast cancer.

· Prostate Cancer

  • Most commonly diagnosed cancer among Greater Bay Area males.
  • A significant decline in incidence occurred among men in all races between 2010 and 2013, at an average of 12.3 percent per year. 
  • Compared to males in all of California, males in the Greater Bay Area had higher prostate cancer incidence rates in all racial/ethnic groups. 
  • Rates were highest among black men (194.5 per 100,000 compared to 78.1 for Asian/Pacific Islander men) from 2009 through 2013.
  • Prostate cancer mortality rates have steadily declined for all racial/ethnic groups by an average of 3.6 percent per year since 1991. 
  • The mortality rate in black males was nearly five times the rate in Asian/Pacific Islander males from 2009 through 2013.

· Lung and Other Smoking-Related Cancers
  • Incidence rates continued to decrease by an average of 2.8 percent per year from 2007 through 2013 across all racial/ethnic groups.
  • Despite declining rates, lung cancer continues to be the second most common cancer diagnosis among males and females in the Greater Bay Area.
  • Lung cancer deaths account of all cancer deaths for 22.1 percent of males and 21.4 percent of females from 2009 to 2013.
  • Incidence and mortality rates were highest among black males and females.
  • Cancers known or thought to be smoking-related include cancers of the lung, oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus, stomach, colorectum, liver, pancreas, larynx, bladder, kidney and acute myeloid leukemia. 

· Melanoma
  • Third most common invasive cancer diagnosed among white males in the Greater Bay Area. In other U.S. populations, melanoma generally ranks fourth or fifth.
  • Incidence rates are almost eight times higher among whites than Hispanics, and extremely low among blacks and Asian/Pacific Islanders.
  • From 2008 through 2013, the rate increased an average of 2.3 percent per year. This rate of increase was significantly lower than the 8.5 percent average increase seen from 2002 through 2008. However, for white males the rate continued to increase at an average of 5.7 percent per year from 2001 through 2013. 
  • Over the past decade, melanoma incidence rates among whites have been significantly higher and increased more rapidly in the Greater Bay Area than in California overall. 
  • Mortality rates decreased slightly since 1988 for all races/ethnicities, but were twice as high among white men compared to white women, a difference that is poorly understood.

· Colorectal Cancer
  • Third most commonly diagnosed cancer among Greater Bay Area males and females.
  • Incidence rates have declined for both genders over time, but most significantly in men – at 5.2 percent per year – since 2008.
  • Incidence rates are highest among blacks (48.4 per 100,000), followed by whites (37.5 per 100,000).
  • Mortality rates have declined over the past 26 years, except in black males.

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 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

Media Contact: 
Donna Lock, 510-608-5160 |


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