A way to send a message of solidarity without speaking, cancer ribbons are worn to spread awareness and show support for loved ones battling cancer. Each color represents a different form of cancer, chosen by nationally recognized nonprofit organizations that provide support, education and awareness for cancer research.
With the plethora of ribbon colors it’s not unusual to get confused. To help you show your support for the loved ones in your life fighting cancer, here is a guide to the 25 most common cancer ribbons.
Ribbon color: Amber
While appendix cancer is considered extremely rare, it is thought to affect between one and two people per one million in the U.S. each year. Impacting both men and women equally, it is most common in people in their forties and fifties, but can be diagnosed at any age. There are several types of appendix cancer, each beginning with the cells lining inside of the organ. Most people with appendix cancer do not have symptoms when the cancer first starts. Rather, the subsequent discomfort and pain is usually thought to be appendicitis; the cancer is typically diagnosed after the appendix is removed. The Appendix Cancer Pseudomyxoma Peritonei Research Foundation (ACPMP) established August as the official Appendix Cancer Awareness Month, with amber as the official cancer ribbon color.
Ribbon color: Yellow, purple, and blue
The most common type of urinary tract cancer, bladder cancer is known to affect men more frequently than women. Bladder cancer starts when cells that make up the urinary bladder start to grow out of control. As more cancerous cells develop, they form a tumor and spread to other parts of the body over time. Bladder cancer represents 5% of all cancer cases today, and the risk of being diagnosed with this form of cancer only increases with age. Smokers are also three times more likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer compared to those who do not smoke. In the U.S., over 587,000 men and women have a history of bladder cancer. Each May, Bladder Cancer Awareness Month is a time to increase awareness of the disease and raise funds for bladder cancer research and patient education. This type of cancer is represented with a tricolor cancer ribbon of yellow, purple, and blue.
Ribbon color: Pink
As the most widely known form of cancer, breast cancer develops when cells in the breast mutate and grow out of control, creating tumors. Breast cancer then invades and grows into the tissue surrounding the breast, and can travel to other parts of the body to form new tumors. Roughly 12% of women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, as it remains the most-diagnosed and deadliest form of cancer among women. However, with the influx of new research, survival rates continue to improve.
October is nationally recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with Susan G. Komen, National Breast Cancer Foundation, and other advocacy groups and organizations hosting walks, fundraisers, and events throughout the month. Researchers, organizations, and survivors all display pink cancer ribbons or wear pink clothing to show support in the stand against breast cancer.
Ribbon color: Teal and white
Nearly 13,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer each year. All women are at risk for this form of cancer, but it most often occurs in women over the age of 30. Most women are screened for this form of cancer with regular pap smears, which have shown to reduce cervical cancer related deaths by more than 70%. In addition, the HPV vaccine (the human papillomavirus vaccine) is the most recent tool in the fight against cervical cancer. The United States Congress designated January as Cervical Health Awareness Month, with teal and white as the official cancer colors. Throughout the month, the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, Cervical Cancer Action for Elimination, and other advocacy groups and organizations raise awareness about cervical cancer research, early detection, and HPV prevention.
Ribbon color: Gold
Each year in the U.S., nearly 16,000 children, teens, and young adults under the age of 21 are diagnosed with cancer, and about one in four of them will not survive. The most common types of cancer in children are acute lymphocytic leukemia, neuroblastoma, and brain and other nervous system tumors. While many of these cancer types have their own support organizations and advocacy groups, the American Childhood Cancer Organization encourages everyone to Go Gold during the month of September in honor and in memory of children with cancer. Their goal is to increase awareness and raise funds for those affected by childhood cancer. The color gold in the cancer ribbons symbolizes how precious children are and the resiliency of childhood cancer heroes. Unlike other cancer colors, this ribbon represents dozens of childhood cancers.
Ribbon color: Dark blue
Colon cancer is highly preventable with timely colonoscopies. Also known as colorectal cancer, this type of cancer starts in the colon or the rectum and affects the large intestine. Doctors screen for this type of cancer by looking for polyps in the colon and rectum. Like most forms of cancer, early detection can make a big difference in survival rates. Colon cancer can be diagnosed in young adults and teenagers, but the majority of colon cancer occurs in people over the age of 50. Those with irritable bowel diseases like IBS or Cronhs are at a higher risk for colon cancer. It’s estimated that 151,030 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2022. National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is held each year in March, offering healthcare providers the opportunity to educate their community and promote awareness about the importance of colorectal cancer screening, prevention, and treatment. This type of cancer is represented with a dark blue cancer ribbon.
Endometrial or Uterine Cancer
Ribbon color: Peach
Endometrial cancer, sometimes called uterine cancer as it begins in the uterus, typically affects women after menopause. Women between the ages of 50 and 70 are at an increased risk for endometrial cancer, and the risk only increases with age. Each year, over 60,000 women are diagnosed with endometrial cancer in the U.S. The Foundation for Women’s Cancer declared September as Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, with the goal of bringing awareness to all gynecologic cancers, including cervical, ovarian, uterine/endometrial, and vulvar cancer. This type of cancer is represented with a peach cancer ribbon.
Ribbon color: Green
Although it is rare, in 2021 over 11,000 people were diagnosed with gallbladder cancer in the U.S. This type of cancer develops when malignant cancer cells form in the tissues of the gallbladder, but unfortunately the cancer is typically not found until the disease has progressed to its final stages. Although this form of cancer is seen mainly in older people, younger people can be diagnosed with it, too. Weight seems to play a significant role in the incidence of gallbladder cancer; those who are overweight or obese tend to have a higher rate of diagnosis. February is Gallbladder Cancer Awareness Month, with green as the official cancer ribbon color.
Head and Neck Cancer
Ribbon color: Burgundy and white
Head and neck cancer is a group of cancers that usually begin in the cells that line the inside of the mouth, nose, throat, and, occasionally, the salivary glands. Accounting for nearly 4% of all cancers in the U.S., head and neck cancers are more than twice as common among men as they are among women. Alcohol and tobacco are the two most important risk factors for head and neck cancers, with at least 75% of cases caused by alcohol and tobacco use. April is Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month, with burgundy and white as the official cancer ribbon color.
Ribbon color: Violet
Hodgkin’s lymphoma primarily affects the lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s immune system. White blood cells called lymphocytes grow out of control causing swollen lymph nodes and growths throughout the body. Less common than non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and one of the most curable forms of cancer, it still affects nearly 8,500 people each year. People between the ages of 15 and 40, and those over the age of 55, are more likely to be diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Men are also slightly more likely to have this form of cancer than women. Every September, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society recognizes both Blood Cancer Awareness Month and Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month to raise awareness about these forms of blood cancer and to give hope to those affected by the disease. Violet is the official cancer ribbon color for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Ribbon color: Purple
Leiomyosarcoma (LMS) is a rare but aggressive form of cancer that grows in the smooth muscles (organs) of the body, including the intestines, stomach, bladder, and blood vessels. In women, LMS is most often found in the uterus or abdomen. Treatment for this form of cancer is difficult as the tumors are often aggressive and irregular. A type of soft tissue sarcoma that makes up between 10% to 20% of soft tissue sarcoma cases, LMS is more common in adults than in children. It’s estimated that over 13,000 new soft tissue sarcomas will be diagnosed in 2022, including LMS, liposarcoma, and undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma.
All year, organizations like the Leiomyosarcoma Support and Direct Research Foundation and the National Leiomyosarcoma Foundation raise money and awareness to support a cure for this aggressive cancer. Leiomyosarcoma Awareness Month is recognized every July, with Leiomyosarcoma Awareness Day celebrated on July 15. Purple is the official cancer ribbon color for LMS.
Ribbon color: Orange
Leukemia is a form of blood cancer that normally starts in the bone marrow. In people with leukemia, their bone marrow produces an excessive amount of abnormal white blood cells that don’t function properly. Many types of leukemia exist, and some are more common in children than in adults. In 2021, it was estimated that 186,400 people were diagnosed with leukemia or myeloma, representing almost 10% of all new cancer cases that year. The 5-year relative survival rate for leukemia has quadrupled since 1960 due to increased awareness and advances in treatment. Every September, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society celebrates Blood Cancer Awareness Month, raising awareness for all blood cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, and Hodgkins Lymphoma. Leukemia, and kidney cancer, share orange as their official cancer ribbon color.
Ribbon color: Emerald green
The liver continuously filters blood that circulates throughout the body, removes toxins and other chemical waste products from the blood, and converts nutrients and drugs absorbed from the digestive tract into ready-to-use chemicals. Liver cancer is an aggressive form of cancer that accounts for about 2% of cancers in the U.S. and is much more common in men than in women. Primary liver cancer starts in the liver, while secondary liver cancer starts in another part of the body and spreads to the liver. It’s estimated that over 40,000 new cases of liver cancer will be diagnosed in 2022, with a survival rate of 20.8%. October is Liver Cancer Awareness Month, when organizations like the American Liver Foundation raise money and awareness to fight liver cancer. Emerald green is the official cancer ribbon color for this type of cancer.
Ribbon color: White or pearl
Lung cancer starts when cells in the lungs divide uncontrollably, causing tumors to grow. These tumors can reduce a person’s ability to breathe and can spread to other parts of the body. Although many think lung cancer just affects smokers, it can affect anyone. Considered to be the deadliest form of cancer among men and women, lung cancer is responsible for more deaths than breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined. It’s estimated that over 230,000 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in 2022. November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, uniting men, women, survivors, and caregivers across the country to stand together against lung cancer. The American Lung Association raises awareness about lung cancer all year, with white or pearl as the official cancer ribbon color.
Melanoma and Skin Cancer
Ribbon color: Black
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops when melanocytes begin to grow out of control. Though one of the least common forms of skin cancer, melanoma is still considered the deadliest form of skin cancer: one person in the U.S. dies from melanoma every hour. If not detected early, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body. Fortunately, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable cancers.
Skin Cancer Awareness Month is celebrated every May, a perfect time to inform others about the sun’s harmful rays and raise awareness for skin cancer during the outdoorsy warm weather. Melanoma Monday is reserved the first Monday of the month, when organizations like the American Academy of Dermatology, the Skin Cancer Foundation, and the Melanoma Research Foundation raise awareness about the signs and symptoms of skin cancer. Black is the official cancer color ribbon color for melanoma and other skin cancers.
Ribbon color: Burgundy
The second most common type of blood cancer, multiple myeloma is rarer than other forms of cancer. Primarily affecting the plasma cells, the lifetime risk of getting multiple myeloma is 1 in 132 (0.76%). In 2021, it was estimated that over 34,000 people would be diagnosed with multiple myeloma. People over the age of 45 are at a higher risk for this cancer. March is Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month, when the International Myeloma Foundation and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society raise money and support for this rare form of cancer. Burgundy is the official cancer color ribbon for multiple myeloma cancer.
Ribbon color: Lime green
Similar to Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a type of cancer that begins in the white blood cells in the lymphatic system, which is a part of the body’s germ-fighting immune system. The main difference between the two cancers is the specific lymphocytes each involves: Hodgkin’s cancer patients have a type of cell called Reed-Sternberg cells present, while non-Hodgkin’s cancer patients do not. Doctors can conclude if a person has Reed-Sternberg cells by analyzing a sample of the cancer using a special microscope. More common than Hodgkin’s lymphoma, in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma the lymphocytes grow abnormally and form tumors throughout the body.
Lymphoma and leukemia are both types of blood cancer commonly grouped together, but they affect the body in different ways. Leukemia affects the blood and bone marrows, while lymphoma mainly affects the lymph nodes. Every three minutes, one person in the U.S. is diagnosed with blood cancer. In 2021, it was estimated that 1,898,160 people were diagnosed with a form of blood cancer, almost 10% of all new cancer cases that year. Every September is recognized as Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month, when organizations raise awareness for blood cancer fighters and survivors. In 2022, World Lymphoma Awareness Day falls on September 15. Lime green is the official cancer color ribbon for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, whereas Hodgkin’s lymphoma is violet and leukemia is orange.
Ribbon color: Teal
Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in women between the ages of 35 and 74. Ovarian cancer is when cancerous cells develop in, near, or on the outer layer of one or both ovaries. Although the disease has over a 90% five-year survival rate with early detection, only 20% of cases are caught in the earliest stages. Women who have their first full-term pregnancy after the age of 35, or who have never carried a pregnancy to full term have higher risk of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Researchers estimate that one in 78 women will experience ovarian cancer in their lifetime.
Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is recognized every September, where organizations like the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance work to find a cure, improve treatments, and promote early detection. World Ovarian Cancer Day is celebrated globally on May 8th, when people around the globe spread awareness for this form of cancer, with teal as the official cancer color ribbon.
Ribbon color: Purple
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women in the U.S, and it’s estimated that over 49,000 deaths from pancreatic cancer will occur in 2022. Because the pancreas is located deep inside the body, making it difficult for healthcare providers to feel a tumor, pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed in late stages and is, therefore, a particularly deadly form of cancer. November is recognized as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, when the Pancreatic Cancer Action Foundation (PanCan) and the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation work together to raise awareness and funds for pancreatic cancer research. In 2022, World Pancreatic Cancer Day falls on November 17.
Pancreatic cancer uses purple as the official cancer color ribbon as a tribute to the love between a mother and daughter. Rose Schneider, whose favorite color was purple, died just six months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Her daughter, Pamela Acosta Marquardt, worked to found PanCan and support others with pancreatic cancer, as a way to grieve the loss of her mother and find support for herself.
Ribbon color: Light blue
One in nine men in the U.S. will receive a prostate cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. As the second most common cancer for men, it affects more than 3 million men in the U.S. It’s important for men to have regular screenings beginning in middle age, as routine screening may help detect the early stages of prostate cancer and avoid serious complications. Fortunately, if caught early, prostate cancer is completely treatable. September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, when organizations like the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Prostate Cancer Research Institute promote preventative testing to encourage men to get regular screenings. Light blue is the official cancer color ribbon for prostate cancer.
Sarcoma (bone cancer)
Ribbon cancer: Yellow
More commonly referred to as bone cancer, sarcoma is a type of cancer that affects much more than a person’s bones. There are several types of bone cancer that can affect any connective tissue in the body, including muscles, deep skin tissues, cartilage, and more. Sarcoma can affect both children and adults, but 20% of childhood cancers are sarcomas. Referred to as the ‘forgotten cancer’ by the Sarcoma Foundation of America, Sarcoma Awareness Month is observed every July to help fund research and increase awareness. Yellow is the official cancer color ribbon for sarcoma cancer.
Ribbon color: Periwinkle blue
Also known as gastric cancer, stomach cancer occurs when cancerous cells in the stomach start to grow out of control. Mainly affecting older people, men are at a higher risk than women in developing stomach cancer at some point in their lifetime. No Stomach for Cancer refers to stomach cancer as a ‘silent killer”; this disease receives little attention despite it being the third leading cause of cancer deaths globally. It’s estimated that over 26,000 new cases of stomach cancer will be diagnosed in 2022. Stomach cancer accounts for about 1.5% of all cancers diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
November is a time where there’s a great focus on food, nourishment, and family during the holidays. No Stomach for Cancer understands how challenging it can be for those battling stomach cancer to eat during the holiday season, so they established November as Stomach Cancer Awareness Month. Throughout the month, various organizations work to raise awareness and support efforts to educate larger communities on the risk factors, prevention, and early detection of stomach cancer. A soft periwinkle blue is the official cancer color ribbon for stomach cancer.
Ribbon color: Light purple
According to the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation, more men between the
Ribbon color: Blue, teal, and pink
Thyroid cancer is relatively common, occurring in the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck. Most commonly diagnosed at a younger age than most other adult cancer, women are three times more likely to develop thyroid cancer than men. It’s estimated that over 43,000 new cases of thyroid cancer will be diagnosed in 2022. September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, when organizations like the American Thyroid Association spread awareness and support survivors and those currently battling thyroid cancer. This type of cancer is represented with a tricolor cancer ribbon of blue, pink, and teal.
Uncommon or rare cancers are typically represented by a black-and-white zebra print ribbon. Zebras were chosen as the emblem for rare diseases because of the saying: “When you hear the sound of hoofbeats, look for horses, not zebras.” In the cancer world, neuroendocrine tumors and other rare diseases are considered medical zebras, as they make up just 2% of nationally treated cancers.
While this guide does not include every cancer ribbon, by shining a light on the most common ribbons, awareness and support for survivors and those currently battling these terrible diseases can grow. A lavender ribbon is used to represent and spread awareness for all types of cancer.
In 2022, there will be an estimated 1,918,030 new cancer cases and 609,360 cancer deaths in the U.S. alone. While wearing a specific color or ribbon cannot find the cure for cancer, it can help people show their support for a friend or loved one, and allow others to openly discuss their cancer diagnosis.
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