• A community partnership to fight cancer

The San Francisco Cancer Initiative (SF CAN) is a collaborative effort to reduce cancer in San Francisco by engaging health care systems, government, community leaders, and residents.

Watch this video for compelling testimonies why SF CAN is the right initiative for our city in this time.

Cancer kills more San Franciscans than any other cause. Each year, nearly 4,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed in San Francisco’s population of almost 865,000 people, and more than 1,300 residents die from the disease.

Nearly half of those cases come from just a few types of cancer : breast, colorectal, liver, prostate, and tobacco-caused cancers. They are the city’s most prevalent types and ones that are the most likely to be affected by known interventions or better screening.

By concentrating efforts on these common cancers with effective approaches, SF CAN aims to reduce cancer in San Francisco and the burden it places on our residents.

Since many of those cancers affect certain racial and ethnic minorities and the socially disadvantaged more than other groups, a primary focus of SF CAN will be reducing inequities in prevention, screening rates, access to quality healthcare, and outcomes.



The impact of cancer in San Francisco

In San Francisco, the five types of cancer which account for almost half of all cases are also the ones we can affect with known interventions, screening, and education.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and the fourth most common cause of death from cancer.

Much progress has been made in understanding the causes of breast cancer, but few options for prevention at the population level exist. Early detection by mammography has proven to lower mortality, especially for women over 50 years, but conventional mammography is unlikely to offer many new opportunities to advance the field.

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Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States and one of the leading causes of years of life lost to cancer in San Francisco. We can reduce the rates of colorectal cancer by improving early detection and screening.

Screening detects precancerous polyps before cancer can develop, as well as early stage cancers at a time when it can be cured, and it is one of the most effective ways to prevent colorectal cancer deaths.

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In San Francisco, liver cancer is the 9th most common cancer and the 5th most deadly. SF CAN seeks to reduce new liver cancer cases and liver cancer deaths in San Francisco by 50 percent.

We will do this by reducing the impact of viral hepatitis. We will promote vaccination against hepatitis B, safe sex and clean-needle use, earlier detection of hepatitis B and C with screening blood tests, better monitoring and treatment for people infected with those diseases, and access to care for liver cancer patients.

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SF CAN aims to combat prostate cancer disparities through targeted early detection and follow-up of aggressive disease and institutional partnerships that ensure high-quality treatment citywide.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, and African American men have the highest incidence and mortality rates from the disease. Early detection of life-threatening prostate cancer is possible and can reduce mortality.

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Adult cigarette smoking is down, but tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of cancer and cancer deaths in the U.S. Cancers linked to tobacco use make up 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed.

Coordinated action on tobacco control, especially among young adults, in low income communities, and among the homeless and people with mental illness, where smoking rates are higher than the general population, can make the highest impact.

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Approaches for reducing cancer rates in San Francisco

Up to half of all cancers are preventable if we could eliminate individual behaviors and social circumstances that increase risk.

These approaches hold particular promise in San Francisco. Task forces are working to leverage these approaches for each of the five cancers.

Cancer Screening Read more

Evidence-based screening approaches can reduce the incidence and mortality of many cancers.

Diet and Exercise Read more

Regular physical activity and a healthy diet can decrease risk for some cancers, as well as improve quality of life after after a cancer diagnosis.

Social Determinants Read more

Underserved populations have higher rates of cancer occurrence and death from the disease.

Tobacco Use Read more

Tobacco use contributes to numerous cancers, such as lung, breast, bladder, head and neck, pancreas, cervix, esophagus, and others.




Get Involved

Please join us in creating a model that will enable us to make the next big leap forward in reducing rates of cancer in San Francisco and beyond.