Cancer ribbon colors: A guide
There are many different types of cancer ribbons, each with their own symbolic color. In this article, we list all the cancer ribbon colors and their purposes, as well as specific cancer awareness months.
Image credit: Stephen Kelly, 2018
Head and neck cancer
Color: White and burgundy
Head and neck cancer incorporates a range of different cancers, including cancer of the:
- nasal cavity
- salivary glands
The Head and Neck Cancer Alliance note that alcohol and tobacco use are two of the most significant risk factors for these types of cancer.
April is Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month.
March is Myeloma Awareness Month when people and organizations help spread the word and raise money for research.
Leukemia is a form of blood cancer that usually starts in the bone marrow. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society state that the 5-year survival rate for leukemia has more than quadrupled since 1960. The improvement in the outlook may be due to increased awareness of the disease and advances in medication.
September is Leukemia Awareness Month. Leukemia also shares the orange ribbon with kidney cancer.
Kidney cancer is one of the 10 most common cancers in the United States. It is more common in older people, and more men than women tend to develop it. While it is not possible to prevent all cases of kidney cancer, obesity, and smoking increase a person's risk.
March is Kidney Cancer Awareness Month.
Probably, the most well-known cancer ribbon is the pink ribbon that indicates breast cancer. Researchers and organizations use or wear pink throughout their numerous campaigns to highlight their stand against breast cancer.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Organizations, such as the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the National Breast Cancer Foundation constantly work towards finding a cure for breast cancer and help support those going through treatment.
Uterine or endometrial cancer
September is Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month. During that month, many campaigners come together to raise awareness for preventative testing and funds for research.
An amber ribbon is the sign of support for those battling appendix cancer. Appendix cancer is rarer than many other cancers.
According to one study, there are only about 1.2 cases of appendix cancer per 100,000 people in the U.S.
There is currently no specific awareness month for appendix cancer.
A gold ribbon represents all cancers that occur during childhood.
Organizations, such as the American Childhood Cancer Organization, campaign all year round to spread awareness and raise money to support children fighting cancer.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Sarcoma or bone cancer
A yellow ribbon represents sarcoma or bone cancer. There are several types of bone cancer. Sarcoma can affect the bones or it can affect the connective tissues in the body, such as the cartilage or myofascial tissue.
Organizations, such as the Sarcoma Foundation of America, help fund research and increase awareness about the disease.
July is Sarcoma Awareness Month.
Color: Lime green
Lymphoma and leukemia are two separate forms of cancer that are commonly grouped together because they both affect the blood.
September is World Lymphoma Awareness Month, which supports people with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other forms of blood and lymph cancer.
Color: Emerald green
October is Liver Cancer Awareness Month when foundations and charities help raise awareness for testing and funds for research.
According to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in women aged 35–74. Researchers estimate that one in 75 women will experience ovarian cancer during their lifetimes.
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. However, May 8th is also World Ovarian Cancer Day, when people around the globe spread awareness of ovarian cancer.
Color: White and teal
Thanks to early preventive screenings, more people are surviving cervical cancer than ever before. According to the Foundation for Women's Cancer, regular tests, such as the Pap smear, have reduced deaths from the disease by more than 70 percent.
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.
Color: Light blue
Routine screening beginning around 50 years old may help detect prostate cancer early and avoid serious complications.
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month where organizations promote preventative testing and help raise funds for developing new treatments.
Color: Dark blue
Colon cancer affects the large intestine. People with forms of irritable bowel disease, such as Crohn's or colitis, have a higher risk of developing this type of cancer.
Regular screening for polyps and signs of cancer has led to an improvement in survival rates in recent years. When doctors treat colon cancer in its early stages, the 5-year survival rate is 90 percent.
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
Color: Periwinkle blue
A soft, powdery-blue ribbon is a sign of support for those living with stomach or gastric cancer. The organization No Stomach For Cancer note that stomach cancer still receives little attention, even though it is the third leading cause of cancer deaths globally.
November is Stomach Cancer Awareness Month, which is vital for promoting greater public knowledge of the disease and raising funds for research.
Color: Light purple
An essential tool for catching this type of cancer in the early stages is regular self-examination.
April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month.
Pancreatic cancer is difficult to diagnose in the early stages, as there are no preventive screening tests available.
Pancreatic cancer uses a purple ribbon as a tribute to one woman's love for her mother. A woman named Rose Schneider, whose favorite color was purple, died after battling pancreatic cancer. Her daughter, finding little formal support in her time of need, worked to found the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCan) to support people with pancreatic cancer.
November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. During this month, PanCan and other organizations, such as the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation, work together to raise awareness and funds for pancreatic cancer research.
A lavender ribbon is usually a sign of support for those living with all types of cancer. Sometimes, people wear a rainbow of ribbons or a ribbon with many different colors to symbolize the same thing.
National Cancer Prevention Month and World Cancer Day take place in February each year.
Hodgkin lymphoma is a form of lymphoma or blood cancer where the cancer starts in the lymph nodes.
As the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society note, Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the most curable forms of cancer.
September is World Lymphoma Awareness Month.
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. People can also wear a black ribbon to promote regular skin checks and preventive screenings.
Color: Zebra print
Carcinoid cancer is not as well-known as other cancers. Carcinoid cancer grows very slowly, commonly appearing in the small intestines and bronchial system in the lungs, according to the American Association for Cancer Research.
Some people experience little to no symptoms for a long time, though carcinoid cancer can still be life-threatening.
November is Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Month.
Possibly a reflection of a person's "grey matter," a grey ribbon promotes brain cancer awareness.
The National Brain Tumor Society estimate that approximately 688,000 people in the U.S. are living with a brain or central nervous system tumor. While the majority of these tumors are benign, about 37 percent are cancerous.
May is Brain Cancer Awareness Month.
Color: White or pearl
Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer deaths. It is responsible for about 27 percent of all cancer-related deaths, according to the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC).
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, though other organizations, such as the IASLC, work year-round to raise funds for lung cancer research.
Color: Blue, yellow, and purple
Cancer of the bladder uses a blue, yellow, and purple ribbon for recognition. The American Bladder Cancer Society state that bladder cancer accounts for up 5 percent of all cancer cases. Men are more likely to develop it than women.
May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month.
Color: Blue, pink, and teal
Doctors will diagnose an estimated 53,990 new cases of thyroid cancer in 2018, according to the American Cancer Society.
September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, when organizations, such as the American Thyroid Association, promote their work to spread awareness and support for people with thyroid cancer.
A final note
Wearing a specific color or ribbon can help people show their support for a friend or loved one, or even help them discuss their own cancer diagnosis with others.
Participating in awareness campaigns, just by wearing a ribbon, can help keep the public informed about cancer research and promote funding for new treatments.