And where some people see empathy, there are a few bad apples that see dollar signs in these emotional-giving charities. "Unfortunately, there are some bad actors out there in this industry that take advantage of that," she says. "They know that if you do direct mail or you do telemarketing and call people and say, 'Can't you just give $20 for breast cancer,' a lot of people just hear breast cancer and say, 'OK, I can spare $20.' They just give emotionally; they don't do any research they don't really find out what the $10 or $20 is going to go to."
Bottom line: If you're going to give to a charity, at least take an extra five minutes to check its grade.
What you can do
Thirty years ago, a woman was pretty much forced to get a mastectomy to treat her breast cancer. Now, patients have the option to get lumpectomies, where only a portion of the breast is removed, and radiation, says oncologist Dr. Stephen C. Malamud, who's been treating breast cancer patients since the early '80s. So none of this is to say that you shouldn't give to breast cancer charities; you should just be smarter about it.