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our mission

The goal of SF CAN is to reduce the cancer burden across the city by harnessing innovative science, new technologies and our knowledge of needs of all the citizens of San Francisco.


SF CAN is targeting the five most common cancers which collectively account for half of all new cancers in San Francisco: breast, colorectal, liver, lung and other tobacco-related cancers, and prostate cancer.



SF CAN is a collaborative effort initiated by the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center in partnership with health care systems, government and community leaders throughout San Francisco.

Scientists, community partners, clinicians, and individuals are teaming up to identify the best methods to reduce cancer, organized into task forces for each of the five most common cancers in SF.
Who is

Advancements in science give us new opportunities to cure cancer. We have to make sure that our most vulnerable communities get our full attention to access these new medical opportunities. SF CAN is committed to this.”

Barbara A. Garcia, MPA 

  • To 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.

  • To build and sustain strong working relationships and open channels for sharing innovation citywide.

  • To share promising evidence-based prevention and screening practices - practices we know will work - across the entire San Francisco community.  See our Partners 

  • To develop and advance promising, community-based solutions for the future.

  • To engage the San Francisco philanthropic community in this effort, serving our city and creating a model for communities everywhere.

  • To use San Francisco as a living laboratory for preventing or slowing certain cancers, eventually extending this model across the Bay Area, California, and beyond.




Modifying individual behaviors and social circumstances could prevent up to half of all cancers in San Francisco.

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


Hiatt RA, Engmann NJ, Balke K, Rehkopf DH. A complex system model of breast cancer etiology: The Paradigm II Conceptual Model. Cancer Epidemiol Biomark Prev. 2020.(pub on-line) doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-20-0016.

See website for more information from the California Breast Cancer Research Program


Ling PM, Lisha NE, Neilands TB, Jordan JW. Join the Commune: A Controlled Study of Social Branding Influencers to Decrease Smoking Among Young Adult Hipsters. Am J Health Promot. 2020 Feb 20:890117120904917. doi: 10.1177/0890117120904917. [Epub ahead of print]

Rivadeneira NA, Hoskote M, Le GM, et al. Advancing Cancer Control in San Francisco: Cancer Screening in Under-Represented Populations. Am J Prev Med. 2020;58(1):e1-e9. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2019.08.024


Engaging Adults Experiencing Homelessness in Smoking Cessation Through Large-Scale Community Service Events.  Maya Vijayaraghavan, Dorie E Apollonio. Health Promot Pract, 20 (3), 325-327 May 2019

Breast Cancer in San Francisco: Disentangling Disparities at the Neighborhood Level.

Guan A1, Lichtensztajn D1, Oh D1, Jain J1, Tao L1, Hiatt RA1, Gomez SL#1, Fejerman L#; San Francisco Cancer Initiative Breast Cancer Task ForceCancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2019 Dec;28(12):1968-1976. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-19-0799. Epub 2019 Sep 23.

Hiatt RA, Sibley A, Fejerman L, Glantz SA, Nguyen T, Pasick R, Palmer N, Perkins A, Potter M, Somsouk M, Vargas R, Ashworth A. The San Francisco Cancer Initiative: a community initiative to reduce the population burden of cancer. Health Affairs 2018;37(1): 54-61. don: 10.1377/hlthaff.2017.1260. PMID:29309234.

Recent Research



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.


It is the right place and time.


The last few years have seen remarkable advances in:

  • Precision population health

  • Data and information technology

  • Cancer treatment

Our collective experience is powerful. 

The city has forward-looking leadership in every sector – public and private.  San Francisco’s diversity, size, and commitment to social justice make it an ideal place for this pioneering effort.

latest research

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