In 1996, the United States Postal Service (USPS) Breast Cancer Awareness Stamp (the pink ribbon stamp) was published and did not sell well.
The Breast Cancer Research Stamp was the idea of Ernie Bodai, MD, a breast surgeon. Dr. Bodai is a Kaiser Permanente surgeon who performs lumpectomies and mastectomies on women with breast cancer. Dr. Bodai, Betsy Mullen and David Goodman spent their money and time lobbying for Congress' approval of the breast cancer stamp. Dr. Bodai later began a nonprofit organization, Cure Breast Cancer Inc., to raise money to bring attention to the stamp and the breast cancer cause.
In 1998, United States Senators Dianne Feinstein, Alfonse D'Amato, and Lauch Faircloth sponsored legislation in the United States Congress to create a stamp where a portion of its sales go towards breast cancer research, creating the Breast Cancer Research Stamp. The legislation mandated that 70% of funds raised would go to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and 30% would go to the Breast Cancer Research Program of the Department of Defense (DOD).
Art director Ethel Kessler, of Bethesda, Maryland, herself a breast cancer survivor, was asked by the USPS to design the new stamp. Kessler contacted illustrator Whitney Sherman of Baltimore to create the artwork for the stamp. Directing the project, with feedback from a postal design advisory board, Kessler discussed themes with Sherman that the stamp should depict, such as strength and courage, and to show an ethnically-vague woman. It was Sherman who came up with the solution of using Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt, to symbolize the fight against breast cancer. The female hunter is depicted reaching for an arrow, to symbolizing that she protects women from harm and to mimic the position women take during a breast exam. Sherman's illustration is a black line drawing of the female figure on a vibrant, abstract color field, done in pastel, which gives the stamp its optimistic or uplifting feel. Typographically, Kessler featured the phrases, "Fund the Fight" and "Find a Cure" outlining where the right breast should be.
On July 29 1998, the Breast Cancer Research Stamp was issued at a White House event hosted by the First Lady Hillary Clinton with Postmaster General William Henderson, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congressman Vic Fazio and Betsy Mullen.
The stamp originally cost 45 cents, which is more than a regular stamp. 70 percent of funds raised are donated to the National Cancer Institute and 30 percent to the Breast Cancer Research Program of the Department of Defense. As of May 2006, US$35.2 million had been donated to the NCI and the Department of Defense had collected US$15.1 million.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who championed the breast cancer stamp in Congress, calls the Senate's reauthorization of the stamp "good news in the fight against breast cancer." Originally set for a limited run, its release was extended numerous times by acts of the U.S. Congress and now has no end date.
Since the stamp first went on sale in 1998, the United States Postal Service has sold more than 829.12 million stamps, raising over $63.17 million for breast cancer research. The stamp currently costs 55 cents and is deemed valid as a 42-cent first-class stamp. The additional 13 cents charged for each stamp is directed to research programs at the National Institutes for Health, which receives 70 percent of the net proceeds, and the Department of Defense breast cancer research programs, which receive the remaining 30 percent of the net proceeds.
The Breast Cancer Research Stamp is offered through the United States Postal Service as an alternative to a first-class postage stamp. Purchasing the stamp is a convenient and voluntary way to contribute in the fight against breast cancer. Congress passed The Stamp Out Breast Cancer Act of 1997 and the stamp was first issued on July 29, 1998, becoming the country’s first fundraising stamp. Congress has reauthorized the sale of the stamp through December 31, 2011 at which time the Breast Cancer Research Stamp will again need to be reauthorized by Congress in order to keep it on the market.
How Breast Cancer Research Stamp Funds Are Used
The funds have gone to researchers making significant advances in breast cancer research and have been used to find research grants to support new, innovative programs. According to the National Institutes of Health, some of the programs the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has funded with proceeds from the stamp include the following:
Insight Awards to Stamp-Out Breast Cancer (2000-2002)
Funded high-risk exploration by scientists employed outside the federal government who conduct research at their own institutions. The grants were awarded for a two-year period.
NCI awarded 43 grants through this initiative for a total of $9.5 million.
Exceptional Opportunities in Breast Cancer Research (2003-2006)
Funded well-established research that would not have been funded otherwise. The grants were awarded for a period of four years.
NCI awarded 10 grants for a total estimate of $11.6 million.
Clinical Trial to Determine Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence (2005)
This clinical trial is designed to select lymph node-negative, hormone receptor-positive breast cancers for chemotherapy treatment according to their risk of recurrence as measured by a test called OncotypeDx.
One-time contract award in the amount of $4.5 million.
Breast Cancer Pre-Malignancy Program (2006)
A comprehensive program in breast cancer pre-malignancy research that includes the areas of prevention, etiology, biology, diagnosis, and molecular epidemiology.
A total of $8.1 million dollars will be awarded for the following projects:
Molecular Epidemiology and Biology of Mammographic Density
Evaluate Different Decision-Making Approaches Used by Women Recruited for Participation in Chemoprevention Trials
Early Detection of Breast Cancer - Evaluation Strategies to Improve the Accuracy of Mammography Interpretation with the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium Research Resources
Biology of Breast Pre-Malignancy
Isolation, Propagation, Characterization and Imaging
MRI-Guided Therapy with Target SPIO Carbon Nanostructure
To learn more about the National Institutes of Health Breast Cancer Research Program and the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) breast cancer research grants derived from the stamp, visit: http://obf.cancer.gov/contribute/cr-stamp.htm.
One of the Congressional research programs managed by the USAMRMC Office of Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) is the Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP). As a result of the Stamp Out Breast Cancer Act, the DOD BCRP is one of two designated recipients of revenues from sales of the US Postal Service's Breast Cancer Stamp. The Stamp Out Breast Cancer Act (Public Law 105-41) resulted from the work of advocates for breast cancer research. This legislation led to the United States Postal Service's issuance of a new first-class stamp, the Breast Cancer Research Stamp that can be purchased on a voluntary basis by the public.
According to the USAMRMC Office of Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) the research that the Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) has funded with proceeds from the Breast Cancer Research Stamp includes the following:
Since the Breast Cancer Research Stamp was first offered for sale in 1998 the DOD BCRP has received 30% from the sales of the US Postal Service's first class Breast Cancer Research Stamp (Public Law 105-41, Stamp Out Breast Cancer Act [H.R. 1585]), totaling $16,387,657.27.
In July 2000, the Semipostal Authorization Act amended the Stamp Out Breast Cancer Act legislation by extending the sale of the Breast Cancer Research Stamp for 2 years through the summer of 2002.
The Breast Cancer Research Stamp Act of 2001 (S. 1256 and H.R. 2725), enacted as part of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act of 2002 (Public Law 207-67), extended the sale of the Semipostal Authorization Act for breast cancer research to December 31, 2003.
Public Law 108-199 extended the Breast Cancer Research Stamp authorization through 2005.
Congress recently extended the sale of the Breast Cancer Research Stamp to December 31, 2011.
Program Accomplishments and Outcomes
As Breast Cancer Research Stamp revenues become available to the CDMRP, the funds are applied to Idea Awards under negotiation at the time. In FY07, the stamp funds began funding Synergistic Idea Awards also. The DOD has fully funded 34 BCRP Idea Awards, partially funded 2 other Idea Awards as well as fully funded one Synergistic Idea Award and partially funded 2 others. The BCRP Idea Awards are intended to encourage innovative approaches to breast cancer research and are a backbone of the BCRP's portfolio of awards.
Many of the research projects supported by Breast Cancer Research Stamp funds are studying the changes in breast cells that result in the development of breast cancer from normal breast cells, focusing on understanding how and why breast cancer cells continue to grow and divide. Understanding these changes offers the opportunity to develop new drugs to prevent or treat breast cancer.
Metastasis is the spread of tumors to distant sites. Several of the Breast Cancer Research Stamp Awards are seeking to develop new drugs to prevent cancer progression and metastasis.
Risk is another approach to the study of breast cancer. Researchers supported by Breast Cancer Research Stamp funds assess risk by examining individuals or groups of people (populations) who are at risk of developing the disease.
The Breast Cancer Research Stamp funds also support two projects using nanotechnology. The ultimate goal of both projects is to use nanoparticles for the early detection of breast cancer.
Funds derived from the Stamp Out Breast Cancer Act have been used to make discoveries in the basic biology of cancer cell development, tumor formation, the role of the immune system, and advances in early detection techniques. These findings hold significant promise for understanding this disease, identifying new drugs and treatments, and assisting the body's natural defenses to fight the spread of disease. Numerous papers have been published and patent applications have been reported. The DOD will continue to carefully invest the dollars generated by the sale of the Breast Cancer Research Stamp to find and fund the best science from among the nation's most innovative, qualified scientists and clinicians.
To learn more about the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program and the breast cancer research grants derived from the Breast Cancer Research Stamp, visit: http://cdmrp.army.mil/pubs/factsheets/bcstampfactsheet.htm and http://cdmrp.army.mil/pubs/pips/bcstamppip.pdf.
Breast Cancer Research Stamps can be purchased online at http://shop.usps.com/.
Breast Cancer Research Stamps can also be purchased by calling the U.S. Postal Service toll-free at 1-800-STAMP 24.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer in women. One out of every 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. In 2008, approximately 182,460 women in the United States will receive a diagnosis of invasive breast cancer and 67,770 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in situ. In addition, although male breast cancer is rare and accounts for less than 1 percent of all breast carcinomas in the United States, about 1,990 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in men this year. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women. Approximately 40,480 women and 450 men are projected to die from breast cancer this year alone. (Source: United States Department of Defense Congressionally Mandated Breast Cancer Research Program.)
The Breast Cancer Research Stamp is sold at a surcharge above the price of an ordinary first class stamp. Currently, first class stamps sell for 42-cents. The Breast Cancer Research Stamp costs 55-cents. The surplus above the price of the first class stamp is collected by the United States Postal Service and allocated to the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense for breast cancer research.
Originally created in 1997, Congress has reauthorized the Breast Cancer Research Stamp three times. The original sponsors for the bill were Senators Feinstein (D-CA), Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY), and Lauch Faircloth (R-NC) in the Senate, and Representatives Vic Fazio (D-CA) and Susan Molinari (R-NY) in the House. Breast cancer survivor and advocate, Betsy Mullen, breast cancer surgeon, Ernie Bodai and breast cancer advocate David Goodman who lost his first wife to breast cancer, spearheaded the grassroots advocacy efforts in partnership with Senator Feinstein and her colleagues that led to the creation and issuance of this historic stamp designed to save lives.
A small town in Georgia Loganville started a campaign to increase sales of the Breast Cancer Research Stamp called Contract To Cure Cancer this campaign succeeded in making the Loganville post office the number one seller per capita of the BCRS.