Policy Projects

Paths to Prevention: California Breast Cancer Primary Prevention Plan

BCPP led the development of Paths to Preventiona first-ever, comprehensive Breast Cancer Primary Prevention Plan for California. With a strong foundation of science and input from many stakeholders, including academics, government regulators, non-profit organizations and impacted communities; we created a statewide policy agenda to reduce breast cancer risk factors.

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Bring the Plan to Life

Make the vision of Paths to Prevention a reality by donating today. No gift is too small or too big!  

“An Expanded Agenda for the Primary Prevention of Breast Cancer: Charting a Course for the Future”

In advance of the Plan’s publication, “An Expanded Agenda for the Primary Prevention of Breast Cancer: Charting a Course for the Future” was published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The paper describes the Breast Cancer Primary Prevention Plan, including why the California Breast Cancer Research Program funded the project and how BCPP carried it out.

What is the Primary Prevention Plan?

In the United States, a woman’s risk of breast cancer is one in eight. Yet the majority of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have none of the risk factors most commonly associated with the disease. This begs the question why, while it also raises further questions about how we reduce risk for the disease at the individual, community, and societal levels.

While all states have “cancer plans,” these generally focus on early detection, treatment, access to services and some lifestyle issues. The California Primary Prevention Plan seeks to explore the full range of prevention opportunities that can contribute to a statewide effort to reduce the incidence of breast cancer.

Topics covered by the Plan include individual and environmental exposures to toxic chemicals; exposure to ionizing radiation and other physical factors; structural barriers to a healthy diet and activity levels, such as food deserts and the built environment; workplace exposures and risk factors; impact of alcohol consumption and tobacco use; and the impact of racism and poverty on breast cancer risk.

Paths to Prevention provides a California policy agenda and action plan, which BCPP will work with stakeholders to implement in the coming years with the goal of reducing the incidence of breast cancer in the state. While the focus of this groundbreaking approach is squarely on breast cancer, the policy action plan will undoubtedly impact numerous other cancers and adverse health impacts; and while the focus is squarely on California, it provides a road map for other states to prioritize primary prevention of breast cancer.

How This Plan Is Different

Breast cancer control plans typically emphasize early detection, treatment, and access to services. Where they do address primary prevention, the plans tend to focus on ways for individuals to change their behavior, without significant consideration of social, environmental, and/or situational factors or obstacles that enhance or limit individual efforts.

Paths to Prevention is distinct and unique from other cancer plans in several important ways, including its:

  • Focus on Primary Prevention
  • Focus on Systemic Interventions
  • Social Justice Lens
  • Weaving Together Science and Community Wisdom

How This Plan Was Developed

We wove together input from a wide range of sources. We:

  • Assembled a top-notch Advisory Committee (see below),
  • Reviewed thousands of scientific journal articles on 23 breast cancer risk factors,
  • Hosted webinar-based study groups on 9 specific risk factors, and
  • Learned from highly impacted communities at 11 listening session held across the state.

Advisory Committee

Anna Wu, University of Southern California

Caroline Farrell, Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment

Catherine Dodd, Health Consultant

Catherine Houston, United Steel Workers

Eric Roberts, Public Health Institute

Irva Hertz-Picciotto, UC Davis

Janette Robinson-Flint, Black Women for Wellness

Laura Stock, Labor Occupational Health Program, UC Berkeley

Lisa Bailey, Breast surgeon and Breast Cancer Program Co-Director, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center

Mary White, CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, ex officio

Mhel Kavanaugh-Lynch, California Breast Cancer Research Program, ex officio

Peggy Reynolds, Cancer Prevention Institute of California

Rick Kreutzer, CA Dept of Public Health

Sarah de Guia, CA Pan-Ethnic Health Network

Scarlett Gomez, Cancer Prevention Institute of California and UC San Francisco.

Senaida Poole, California Breast Cancer Research Program, ex officio

Shauntay Davis, CA Dept of Public Health

Ted Schettler, Science & Environmental Health Network

Bring the Plan to Life

Make the vision of Paths to Prevention a reality by donating today. No gift is too small or too big!  


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