• What is SF CAN?

    SF CAN is a collaborative effort between the people, the City,
    and community groups to reduce cancer in San Francisco.

 "Someone's ability to survive cancer should not be dependent on their socio-economic status.

We know that prevention and access to quality health care can make all the difference, so I’m proud to stand with UCSF, DPH and our community health organizations as we take this important and exciting step forward in the fight against cancer." 

Mayor Edwin M. Lee

Our Mission

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

SF CAN’s success relies on the power of collective impact, or tackling an intractable problem like cancer through collaboration by public and private partners.


Cancer is the leading cause of death in San Francisco.  It is anticipated that by 2020, cancer will easily overtake heart disease as the leading cause of death in the U.S. This is why we must act now.

SF CAN will target five of the city’s most common cancers likely to be affected by known interventions or better screening.

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.

Our efforts will be broad, deep, and sustained. The city’s size, population, and history of social justice around all kinds of inequity make San Francisco an ideal place for an effort like SF CAN.

We are fortunate to live and work in a city with forward-thinking leadership and community groups that will work with common purpose.

Read the full cancer report here


Why Here? Why Now?

It's the Right Time.   Acting Now - and Acting Together - Saves Lives

This is the ideal time to launch an effort like SF CAN.  The last few years have seen remarkable advances in:

It's the right place: San Francisco’s diversity, size, and commitment to social justice make it an ideal place for this pioneering effort.

We have the right people: The city has forward-looking leadership in every sector – public and private. These groups, ranging from educational and healthcare to and city government and community clinics, have been deeply immersed in cancer care and public health initiatives for years. Our collective experience is powerful. 

How will we achieve this?

Our goal is bold but in a city like San Francisco, achievable. SF CAN will:

  • Explore the key contributors to cancer disparities, including adverse social and economic conditions, low health literacy, as well as barriers to screening and high quality healthcare.
  • Build and sustain strong working relationships and open channels for sharing innovation citywide.
  • Share promising evidence-based prevention and screening practices - practices we know will work - across the entire San Francisco community.
  • Develop and advance promising, community-based solutions for the future.
  • Engage the San Francisco philanthropic community in this effort, serving our city and creating a model for communities everywhere.
  • Use San Francisco as a living laboratory for preventing or slowing certain cancers, eventually extending this model across the Bay Area, California, and beyond.

SF CAN embodies the "collective impact" partnership model - the efforts of many to serve the common good. UCSF serves as SF CAN’s backbone, ensuring partners' access to data sharing, current screening approaches, prevention models, and the latest treatment protocols.