Statistics from the World Health Organization state that 12.5 deaths are from cancer. Using a postal tax stamp to fight cancer started in Ecuador in 1938.

Unlike semi-postal stamps, Postal Tax stamps are mandatory on all mail on designated days of the year.

Ecuador Postal Tax

Recognizing an opportunity to raise money in the fight against cancer, Ecuador issued a 6-centavo stamp from a 1930 commemorative set marking the founding of the Republic of Ecuador, fittingly depicting a tobacco crop, overprinted Campana Contra el Cancer and surcharged 5c to collect the tax. Use of the stamp was obligatory on all mail sent from Ecuador during November 23-30, 1938 and the funds raised went to the International Union for the Control of Cancer.

Marie and Pierre Curie in 1939 Panama anti-cancer stampPanama Postal Tax

Panama followed suit in 1939 when it depicted physicists Pierre and Marie Curie on a series of postal tax stamps that were issued over ten years. The common-design stamps were issued in similar colors with a different date in the lower corner each year. In 1940, a dark-green 1 centavo definitive (regular issue stamp) depicting the coat of arms of Panama was overprinted Lucha Contra El Cancer in a circle. The same definitive was used again in 1946 and 1947 with an 1c surcharge and an overprint reading Cancer B/.0.01 1947.

Dominican Republic Fights Cancer

When Panama ceased issuing postal tax stamps, the Dominican Republic took up the torch. In February 1953 it issued a compulsory tax stamp depicting a serpent entwined about a sword and a crab (cancer). For the next thirty years, this design would grace anti-cancer stamps issued in various colors and later including a year date. Government financial support for people living with cancer in the Dominican Republic is virtually non-existent. Volunteer health care professionals are relied upon to provide medical or comfort care. Drugs left over when a patient succumbs are either repurchased by the clinic or donated back by wealthy clients.

European Cancer League

Nine voluntary cancer leagues formed the association of European Cancer Leagues in 1980. The association, expanded to 27 European countries, forms a network of 40 member organizations, including the Croatian League Against Cancer.

Croatia Postal Tax

The first Croatian anti-cancer postal tax stamp was issued November 4, 1992. This 15-dinar stamp depicts the epic battle between St. George and the dragon. The stamp was obligatory in all mail sent during November 4-11, 1992. In the following two years stamps with the same design were issued and denominated 500d and 50 lipas respectively.

In 1995 and 1996 Croatia changed the design of its postal tax stamps for the benefit of the anti-cancer league and gave the stamps a stronger breast cancer theme as the most frequent cause of death among women in Croatia is breast cancer. The stamps show different designs featuring women performing self-examinations for breast cancer.

Macedonia Postal Tax

Macedonia has arguably done the most for the anti-cancer crusade by issuing a multitude of postal tax stamp in various formats to collect money for anti-cancer leagues. Whether or not a greater amount of funds have been raised is unknown, but there is certainly no lack of stamps for collectors or users in support of Macedonia’s annual anti-cancer week. The first Macedonian anti-cancer stamps were issued in 1992 in a set of eight 5-dinar stamps. Souvenir folders containing perforated and imperforate stamps were also available. Macedonia continues to issue annual anti-cancer postal tax stamps though since 1997 souvenir sheets were no longer available and the obligatory stamps were reduced to a single stamp.

American Cancer Society

It is estimated that is the current trend continues by 2020 there will be in excess of 10 million cancer deaths per year. The application of present technology can prevent 30 percent of these cases and cure another 30 percent with adequate early diagnosis. John Seffron, CEO of the American Cancer Society urges action: “We need to put cancer on the public policy agenda all around the world.” In their own way, postal tax stamps accomplish that.