Cancer Ribbon Colors
We all know about awareness ribbons. Who hasn't seen someone wearing a bracelet adorned with pink ribbons or a yellow ribbon tied around a tree? Yes, everyone has seen the ribbons - but not everyone knows exactly what they are, what they represent, and where they came from.
When we think of cancer ribbons, often the first thing that comes to mind is a pink ribbon for breast cancer. But there are dozens of different ribbon colors representing each type of cancer. Breast cancer organizations have done a great job of promoting pink ribbons, but there are more common cancers that have their own ribbon colors that deserve recognition as well. The three most common types of cancer are skin cancer (or melanoma), lung cancer and prostate cancer (in that order). Skin cancer is represented by a black ribbon, lung cancer by a white ribbon and prostate cancer is light blue.
The first documentation of symbolic ribbons comes from medieval times. Knights were often awarded yellow ribbons for winning battles; this may have helped to form the connection between yellow ribbons and the military that still exists today. Although awareness ribbons are very prominent in our world today, they were not popularized until the last 30 years of the 1900s. The trend can largely be attributed to the 1973 country song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” in which a man who has been imprisoned asks his loved one to tie a yellow ribbon around the tree in front of their home if she wants him to return home. After the release of the song, Penney Laingen, the wife of a man being held hostage in Iran, tied yellow ribbons around trees to illustrate her desire for her husband to return home, and her neighbors, family, and friends soon followed suit. In 1991, the release of the red ribbon for AIDs awareness officially planted the idea of awareness ribbons in our society, and 1992 was deemed “The Year of the Ribbon” by The New York Times.
Today, the looped ribbons which can be found in a rainbow of colors and patterns are intended to raise awareness for various causes (which is why they are called awareness ribbons), and the color of the ribbon denotes the cause it symbolizes. Simple enough, right? Of course, it does get a little more complicated. Most people believe that each ribbon color represents only one cause, However, in reality, a single colored ribbon can represent multiple causes; for instance, purple ribbons can represent about 19 different things. To make things more tangled, two different ribbons can actually represent the same cause. For example, as you will see in the graphic below, both purple and lavender represent all cancers and cancer survivors.
So how do you know what each ribbon symbolizes? To alleviate confusion, we have created an infographic of the ribbon colors that are generally used to represent various types of cancer. Look through the list below, and make sure to check out the awesome selection of cancer awareness gifts as well as hats and scarves for cancer patients on our site. For quick reference, below our infographic, we’ve also included a handy alphabetical listing of all types of cancer and the ribbons that correspond.
Alphabetical Chart - Here’s a quick chart of the various types of cancer (in alphabetical order) for quick reference:
All Cancers - Purple Ribbon
All Cancer Survivors - Purple Ribon
Appendix Cancer - Amber Ribbon
Brain Cancer - Grey Ribbon
Breast Cancer - Pink Ribbon
Bone Cancer - Yellow Ribbon
Bladder Cancer - Blue, Purple & Marigold
Carcinoid Cancer - Zebra Ribbon
Childhood Cancer - Gold Ribbon
Colon & Colorectal Cancer - Dark Blue
Endometrial Cancer - Peach Ribbon
Esophageal Cancer - Periwinkle
Head & Neck Cancer - Burgundy & Cream
Hodgkins Lymphoma - Violet Ribbon
Kidney (Renal) Cancer - Orange Ribbon
Leiomyosarcoma - Purple Ribbon
Leukemia - Orange Ribbon
Liver Cancer - Emerald Green Ribbon
Lung Cancer - White Ribbon
Lymphoma - Lime Green Ribbon
Multiple Myeloma - Burgundy Ribbon
Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma - Lime Green Ribbon
Ovarian Cancer - Teal Ribbon
Pancreatic Cancer - Purple Ribbon
Prostate Cancer - Light Blue
Skin Cancer (Melanoma) - Black Ribbon
Stomach Cancer - Periwinkle
Testicular Cancer - Orchid Ribbon
Thyroid Cancer - Blue, Teal & Pink Ribbon
Uterine Cancer - Peach Ribbon
Comments, Questions & RatingsAsk a question. Post a rating. Leave Your Comments.
- Lymphoma Review by Adell
My wife died of non-hodgkins lymphoma. So now I know what color to where to memorize her. (Posted on 10/19/2017)
- Thank you Review by Aidan
Thank you so much I was trying to figure out what color to dye my hair because some of my friends have died of cancer and I was trying to discover which colors(Posted on 07/01/2017)
- Bone Cancer Review by for a cancer warrior
I'm working on a lap quilt for a dear friend who is battling bone cancer. I plan to incorporate yellow ribbons now. Thanks for this resource recognizing awareness for ALL types of cancer.(Posted on 10/20/2016)
- Melanoma Review by Candice
I was looking for the correct color to represent skin cancer. Very informative.(Posted on 10/08/2016)
- Thank you! Review by Amy
I am so glad this article covers something other than breast cancer ribbons. My friend is battling lung cancer and I have been looking for a way to support her. It's good to know that white is the color to wear.(Posted on 09/12/2016)