Press Releases

U.S. Senate Approves Extension of Breast Cancer Research Stamp

-Bill now goes to President to be signed into law-

Washington, DC – The U.S. Senate has approved legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to extend the sale of the highly successful Breast Cancer Research Stamp for four additional years beyond the current expiration date of December 31, 2007.  The legislation is cosponsored by a bipartisan coalition of 62 additional Senators. 

The Senate last night approved the House-passed bill, which included a provision requiring the National Institutes for Health and the Department of Defense to submit an annual report to Congress and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on significant advances achieved due to funding from the Breast Cancer Research Stamp. 

The Breast Cancer Research Stamp has raised more money than any other fund-raising stamp.  Since the stamp first went on sale in 1998, the U.S. Postal Service has sold more than 802.15 million stamps, raising $59.49 million for breast cancer research.  California continues to be one of the leading contributors, with residents purchasing more than 47 million stamps.

So far, the National Institutes for Health have received $40.4 million and the Department of Defense has received $17.3 million to fund innovative research of breast cancer. 

“The breast cancer research stamp has successfully raised almost $60 million dollars for critical research to help find a cure for this devastating disease.  And with action in both the Senate and the House earlier this week, the life of this wonderful stamp is just one step away from being extended for four more years,” Senator Feinstein said.  “We must continue to do all we can to reach out to women and men who do not know of their cancer and provide hope to those living with it.”

The Breast Cancer Research stamp was the first stamp of its kind dedicated to raising funds for a special cause.  The renewal legislation provides for the stamp to continue to have a surcharge above the value of a first-class stamp, with the surplus revenues going to breast cancer research.

The stamp currently costs 55 cents and is deemed valid as a 41-cent stamp. The additional 14 cents charged for each stamp is directed to research programs at the National Institutes for Health, which receives 70 percent of the proceeds, and the Department of Defense breast cancer research programs, which receives the remaining 30 percent of the proceeds. 

The funds have gone to researchers making significant advances in breast cancer research and have been used to support new programs. For example:

  • In 2006, the National Institutes for Health began to use proceeds from the stamp for a new program that helps determine which breast cancer patients are most likely to benefit from chemotherapy, and therefore, reduce the use of chemotherapy in patients that are unlikely to benefit.
  • Dr. Susan Neuhausen, at the University of California, used a National Institutes for Health “Exceptional Opportunities Award” to conduct research that has led to many insights into breast cancer risks.  Specifically, by using both genetic and environmental data to identify a specific genetic mutation that may increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Dr. William Lee, at the University of Pennsylvania, used a National Institutes for Health award to do research focusing on the growth of blood vessels in tumors.
  • Dr. Archbald Perkins, at Yale University, used a Department of Defense “Idea Award” to do research to help with the prognosis of some breast cancers by using new techniques to identify novel genes involved in cancer.

About 3 million women in the United States are living with breast cancer, one million of whom have yet to be diagnosed. One out of every 8 women will get breast cancer at some point in her lifetime, just as one out of every 6 men will have prostate cancer. The disease claims another woman's life every 13 minutes in the United States. Breast cancer is considered the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in every major ethnic group in the United States, other than skin cancer.  Though much less common, the American Cancer Society estimates that about 2,030 American men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.  

Originally created in 1997, Congress has reauthorized the Breast Cancer Research Stamp three times. The original sponsors for the bill were Senators Feinstein, 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.