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The Color and Meaning of Cancer Ribbons

The Color and Meaning of Cancer Ribbons

While the pink ribbon is a well-recognized symbol of breast cancer awareness and support, many different awareness ribbons, representing many different types of cancers, exist. You might be surprised to learn that more than 50 ribbons represent different cancers and their survivors and caregivers today.

But where did it all start? Awareness ribbons initially sprang from a 1970s tune, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” which inspired the wife of a hostage in Iran to tie yellow ribbons around trees in an effort to heighten awareness and bring her husband home. In the 1990s, AIDS activists brought the red ribbon to life. Since the 1990s, ribbons have decorated the chests and homes of many cancer patients, families, and friends as an outward show of support and compassion.

Ribbons of all hues

In addition to pink for breast cancer, a rainbow of ribbons mark months of awareness and action for other types of cancers. According to the National Cancer Institute, there are over 100 types and subtypes of cancer. Some subtypes of cancer even have their own awareness months and ribbons. Several common types of cancers and their awareness months and ribbon colors are listed below.*

  • Appendix Cancer (August): Amber
  • Bladder Cancer (May): Yellow, purple, and navy
  • Blood Cancer (September): Red
    • Leukemia (September): Orange
    • Hodgkin Lymphoma (September): Violet
    • Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (September): Lime green
    • Myeloma (March): Burgundy 
  • Bone Cancer (July): Yellow
  • Brain Cancer (May): Gray
  • Breast Cancer (October): Pink
  • Childhood Cancer (September): Gold
  • Colorectal Cancer (March): Dark blue
  • Gallbladder & Bile Duct Cancer (February): Kelly green
  • Gastric Cancer (November): Periwinkle
  • Gynecological Cancer (September): Purple
    • Cervical Cancer (January): Teal and white
    • Ovarian Cancer (September): Teal
    • Uterine Cancer (September): Peach
    • Vaginal and Vulvar Cancers (September): Purple
  • Head & Neck Cancer (April): Burgundy and white
  • Kidney Cancer (March): Orange
  • Liver Cancer (October): Green
  • Lung Cancer (November): Pearl or white
  • Pancreatic Cancer (November): Purple
  • Prostate Cancer (September): Light blue
  • Skin Cancer (May): Black
  • Testicular Cancer (April): Purple
  • Thyroid Cancer (September): Purple, teal, and pink

*Not an exhaustive list of all cancer types and subtypes

Examples of different cancer ribbons

Ribbons can be combined to represent multiple cancers, and lavender is sometimes used to recognize cancer as a whole. They can be worn anytime to send love to someone in need, share your commitment with others, and inspire action for awareness and treatment.

In a world where cancer affects so many lives, the diverse colors of awareness ribbons unite us in a shared pursuit: to raise awareness, promote early detection, and support the patients and survivors in our lives. Together, we stand as a powerful force, offering hope and compassion to all those impacted by cancer of any kind.

Read more about the history and meaning of the breast cancer pink ribbon.


Interested in learning more?


Sources:
https://www.webmd.com/cancer/cancer-ribbons-color-meaning
https://www.verywellhealth.com/cancer-ribbons-colors-meanings-2249253
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323448

Publish Date: June 8, 2023

28 Comments

  1. So is there any reason that Breast cancer is like the main representation for cancer or like the pink Breast cancer ribbon why is that always the main symbol for cancer? And is there different types of certain cancers

  2. Breast, lung, skin, uterine and vaginal cancer have all affected members of my family. I was diagnosed with NETs (GI) in 2017 and am living with it everyday. I don’t see the zebra striped ribbon for this.

    • Hi Angel! It looks like March is National Kidney Month and the ribbon color for kidney disease awareness is green.

    • Hi Lorrie. We are sorry to hear that your mom is experiencing myelofibrosis. As a type of blood cancer, myelofibrosis is recognized during Blood Cancer Awareness Month in September and is signified with a red awareness ribbon.

  3. Gallbladder is the one that is Kelly green. The others are Jade or mix ribbons. I think Gallbladder should be added to your list here.

    • Hi Shana! Thanks for your comment. We are currently working on updating this page with more cancer awareness information. Gallbladder & bile duct cancer (February, Kelly green) is on our list of updates coming soon.

    • Hi Karen! Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is in September and the awareness ribbon color is indeed teal. We are working on updating the list of cancer awareness months and ribbons on this page and hope to have it up soon!

    • Hi Sheila! Skin cancer awareness month, including melanoma, is marked in May and signified by a black ribbon.

    • Hi Karon! Appendix cancer does have an awareness month and ribbon. It is marked in August and is signified with an amber ribbon.

    • We are so sorry for the loss of your grandma, and are glad to hear that this information was helpful to you.

    • Hi Donna! Thanks for your comment and for pointing out that we are missing the thyroid cancer ribbon. We will get it added just as soon as we are able! In the meantime, thyroid cancer awareness month is September and is represented by a mulit-color pink, purple, and teal ribbon.

    • Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month is March, and the awareness ribbon color is burgundy.

    • Thanks for your question! The ribbon color for head, neck, and throat cancers, including laryngeal cancer, is two-tone burgundy and white. April is also Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month.

    • Hi Jared! From our research, tattering of a cancer awareness ribbon doesn’t have an official meaning. It’s likely personal or design preference, depending on what the ribbon may mean to you personally.

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