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Cancer Stamp Raises $8M

Nearly $8 million has been raised in the year since the U.S. Postal Service issued the Breast Cancer Research "semipostal" stamp, the first U.S. postage stamp in history to have its net proceeds from sales earmarked for research organizations.

"Postal employees around the nation have embraced this effort and have demonstrated an outpouring of dedication to this worthy cause," said Postmaster General William Henderson in a statement.

"We are seeing tremendous initiatives in all of our cities from postal employees whose hard work and desire to help promote social awareness of this deadly disease have resulted in $7.8 million raised for research so far," Henderson said.

Semipostal stamps includes a surcharge over and above the postal rate. In this case, the Breast Cancer Research stamp sells for 40 cents. When it was first issued last summer, the letter rate was 32 cents, so eight cents went to charity. The letter rate is now 33 cents, leaving seven cents for research.

The semipostal was mandated by Congress, under legislation sponsored by former Rep. Susan Molinari (R-NY) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

It's a very common practice in European countries, but met with protests from stamp collectors in the U.S., who called it a hidden tax on their hobby. There were also fears, both by collectors and within the Postal Service, that the initial stamp would lead to a rash of others for various special interests.

Among the many examples of awareness efforts across the country is the work of postal employees in Des Moines, Iowa, who have partnered with Mercy Medical Center, Mercy Cancer Center, and CBS affiliate KCCI-TV to kick off the "Deliver The Cure" campaign. At a hospital ceremony, Iowa Lt. Governor Sally Pederson purchased the first 100 sheets ($800.00) of the stamps.

In the Postal Service's Pacific Area, the Sacramento, San Francisco, and Oakland Districts are the top three districts in the nation in Breast Cancer Research semipostal stamp sales and money raised for research. Area and district employees are working closely with Feinstein, who created television and radio public service announcements promoting the stamp. Both spots continue to air on TV and radio stations throughout California.

Over the past year, more than 104 million Breast Cancer Research stamps have been sold, raising approximately $7.8 million for research.

Breast cancer is considered the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in every major ethnic group in the U.S. Experts say when breast cancer is diagnosed early (stages I and II), five-year survival rates are nearly 95 percent and there are better options for breast conserving surgery.

For six decades, the Postal Service has issued a variety of postage stamps to help raise awareness for health and social issues including drug abuse, AIDS, and environmental protection and conservation.