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On December 16, 2015 Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) announced that the 1 billionth breast cancer research stamp was sold this month. The stamp has raised $81 million for breast cancer research since its creation in 1998, and President Obama last week signed legislation to extend the stamp through 2019.

            The breast cancer research stamp provides first-class postage and currently costs 60 cents. The additional 11 cents over the regular postal rate helps fund breast cancer research at the National Institutes of Health and the Medical Research Program at the Department of Defense.

            The idea for the stamp was devised by Dr. Ernie Bodai, a Sacramento breast cancer surgeon. Dr. Bodai partnered with Betsy Mullen, a breast cancer survivor from San Diego, and David Goodman from Orinda, who lost his wife to breast cancer, to advocate for the creation of the stamp.

            “The breast cancer research stamp has reached a tremendous milestone—1 billion stamps sold,” said Senator Feinstein. “We must take steps to ensure the stamp continues to provide meaningful support for lifesaving research, and I look forward to working with the Post Office and nationwide retailers to increase awareness of the stamp and make sure it’s widely available.”

            “With the Breast Cancer Research Semipostal Stamp, Americans have used the power of the mail to raise awareness about this disease as well as hope for the cure,” said Postmaster General and CEO Megan J. Brennan. “We appreciate the tremendous support from our postal employees and our customers, which has resulted in over one billion stamps being sold and more than $80 million in stamp sales to date for vital breast cancer research.”

            Proceeds from the stamp help fund the National Cancer Institute’s breast cancer research programs. These programs focus on how to improve early detection of breast cancer. Scientists study how cancers originate and develop in order to improve prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment.

            Scientists also research how to identify markers that precede the development of breast cancer, find better ways to predict whether tumors and lesions found through cancer screening are likely to become life-threatening and investigate links between pregnancy factors and breast cancer risk.

            The stamp is supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Association for Cancer Research, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American College of Surgeons, Are You Dense Advocacy, Breast Cancer Fund, Center for Women Policy Studies, Susan G. Komen, Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Tigerlily Foundation.