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The Breast Cancer Research Stamp

Image of U.S. Postal Service Breast Cancer Research StampThe Breast Cancer Research Stamp is offered through the U.S. 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, which stipulates that 70 percent of the net proceeds from the stamp surcharge be directed to the National Institutes of Health for breast cancer research and 30 percent to the Department of Defense for the same purpose. The stamp was first issued on July 29, 1998, becoming the country’s first fund-raising stamp. Congress has reauthorized the sale of the stamp through December 31, 2015.

How Breast Cancer Research Stamp Funds Are Used
Breast Cancer Research Stamp funds have gone toward the funding of research grants. Some of the programs the NCI has funded with proceeds from the stamp include:

  • 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 $9.4 million.
  • Exceptional Opportunities in Breast Cancer Research (2003-2008)
    • Funded well-established research that would not have been funded otherwise. The grants were awarded for a period of four years.
    • NCI awarded 12 grants for a total estimate of $12.5 million.
  • Clinical Trial to Determine Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence (2006)
    • This clinical trial was 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-present)
    • A comprehensive program in breast cancer pre-malignancy research that includes the areas of prevention, etiology, biology, diagnosis, and molecular epidemiology.
    • A total of $18.1 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
      • Fundamental Understanding of the Biology of Estrogen Receptor Negative Breast Cancer Among Various Racial & Ethnic Groups
      • PARP Inhibition in BRCA Mutation Carriers

Progress Against Breast Cancer

Advances in breast cancer research attributable to NCI projects funded from the proceeds of the stamp include:

  • A new chemically engineered synthetic peptide that has shown in animal studies to be effective against certain tumors and has potential as an anti-tumor drug.
  • The identification of 12 new breast cancer autoantigens, or proteins associated with the body’s immune response, which may aid tumor research and tumor diagnosis.
  • The development of a test to detect the absence of a tumor suppressor gene that may be useful in breast and ovarian cancer prognosis.

Reports to Congress
A provision of the 2007 reauthorization of the Stamp-Out Breast Cancer Act (P.L. 110-150) requires NIH to submit an annual report on the use of funds received from stamp sales to Congress and the Government Accountability Office. The NCI prepares these reports on behalf of NIH.

Use of Funds Received for Semipostal Stamp for Breast Cancer Research, Fiscal Year 2010


GAO Audits
From 1997 until 2007, Congressional reauthorizations of the Stamp-Out Breast Cancer Act required GAO to issue reports on the Breast Cancer Stamp. The GAO reports are available at the following links.

U.S. Postal Service: Agencies Distribute Fund-raising Stamp Proceeds and Improve Reporting GAO-08-45 October 30, 2007

U.S. Postal Service: Factors Affecting Fund-Raising Stamp Sales Suggest Lessons Learned GAO-05-953 September 30, 2005

Breast Cancer Research Stamp: Effective Fund-Raiser but Better Reporting and Cost-Recovery Criteria Needed GAO-03-1021 September 30, 2003

Breast Cancer Research Stamp: Millions Raised for Research, but Better Cost Recovery Criteria Needed GGD-00-80 April 28, 2000

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