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What are the different colors of cancer ribbons?

Cancer awareness ribbons are colored ribbons that represent different types of cancer. These ribbons help raise awareness and show support for patients, survivors, and those who have lost loved ones to different cancers. The first cancer awareness ribbon was introduced in 1991 for breast cancer, which is represented by a pink ribbon. Since then, colored ribbons have expanded to represent many different cancers.

Major Cancer Ribbon Colors

Here are some of the most common cancer ribbon colors and the cancers they represent:

Color Cancer
Pink Breast cancer
Dark blue Colon cancer
Grey Brain cancer
Orange Leukemia
Purple Pancreatic cancer
Burgundy Multiple myeloma
Teal Ovarian cancer
Pearl Lung cancer

Less Common Cancer Ribbon Colors

In addition to the major ribbon colors, there are many less common colors that represent rarer or more specific types of cancer:

Color Cancer
Black Melanoma
Blue Prostate cancer
Brown Colorectal cancer
Gold Childhood cancer
Green Lymphoma
Grey Brain cancer
Lavender General cancer
Lime green Lymphoma
Periwinkle Esophageal cancer
Silver Multiple forms of cancer
Teal Cervical cancer
White Lung cancer
Yellow Bladder cancer

Detailed Explanations of Common Cancer Ribbon Colors

Pink Ribbon – Breast Cancer

The pink ribbon is the most well-known cancer ribbon. It represents breast cancer awareness. Pink ribbons are used to promote education about early detection through self-exams and mammograms. The pink ribbon was started in 1991 by the Susan G. Komen Foundation and is now used worldwide to raise funds for breast cancer research.

Dark Blue Ribbon – Colon Cancer

The dark blue ribbon represents colon cancer or colorectal cancer awareness. This ribbon helps promote education and early detection through recommended screening tests like colonoscopies starting at age 45. Dark blue ribbons are used at fundraising events supporting colon cancer research.

Grey Ribbon – Brain Cancer

The grey ribbon represents brain cancer awareness. It honors those affected by tumors and cancers of the brain. This ribbon is used to promote education on early symptom detection and to raise funds for brain cancer research.

Orange Ribbon – Leukemia

The orange ribbon is the color for leukemia awareness, including all types of leukemia and related blood cancers. Orange ribbons are used at events to honor those touched by leukemia and related conditions. Fundraising efforts support research into better treatments and cures.

Purple Ribbon – Pancreatic Cancer

The purple ribbon represents pancreatic cancer awareness. This ribbon promotes education about the risks and symptoms of pancreatic cancer, which can often be detected late and has low survival rates. Purple ribbons help raise money for much needed research into this disease.

Burgundy Ribbon – Multiple Myeloma

The burgundy ribbon is the color for multiple myeloma awareness. Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer arising from plasma cells. Burgundy ribbons promote education about multiple myeloma and raise funds for continued research around this incurable disease.

Teal Ribbon – Ovarian Cancer

The teal ribbon represents ovarian cancer awareness. Teal ribbons help promote education about the subtle symptoms of ovarian cancer and raise funds for research around early detection and treatment. This ribbon also honors those affected by ovarian cancer.

Pearl Ribbon – Lung Cancer

The pearl or white ribbon symbolizes lung cancer awareness. This ribbon promotes lung cancer education and screening. It also raises research funds for better lung cancer treatments and outcomes. Pearl ribbons honor those affected by all types of lung cancers.

Ribbon Colors for Other Health Conditions

In addition to cancer, colored ribbons represent several other health conditions. Here are a few examples:

Color Health Condition
Silver Parkinson’s disease
Teal Polycystic ovary syndrome
Green Mental health/depression
Purple Alzheimer’s disease
Blue & yellow Diabetes

Wearing Cancer Ribbons

Cancer ribbons are commonly worn on clothing or accessories. Wearing a ribbon is a great way to visually demonstrate awareness and support for a specific cause or type of cancer. Here are some tips for wearing and displaying ribbons:

  • Pin it on – Pin the ribbon securely onto your shirt, jacket, or bag
  • Go for a wrap – Wrap the ribbon around your wrist or necklace
  • Print it – Add the ribbon image to a t-shirt, hat, or other apparel
  • Hang it up – Display ribbons at your home, office, or event
  • Get creative – Incorporate ribbons into crafts, baked goods, or other projects

When wearing a ribbon, be prepared to explain what it represents if asked. Share a few key facts about symptoms, risks, screening, or how to get involved. Wearing the ribbon properly demonstrates your genuine commitment to the cause.

History of Cancer Awareness Ribbons

The first cancer awareness ribbon was introduced in 1991. Here is a brief history of how colored ribbons became symbols of different cancer causes:

  • 1991 – Pink ribbon introduced for breast cancer awareness by Susan G. Komen Foundation.
  • 1992 – Red ribbon adopted as symbol of AIDS/HIV awareness.
  • 1996 – Peach ribbon started for uterine cancer.
  • 1997 – Dark blue ribbon adopted for colon cancer awareness.
  • 1998 – Teal ribbon introduced for ovarian cancer awareness.
  • 1999 – Purple ribbon adopted for pancreatic cancer awareness.
  • 2014 – Pearl ribbon introduced to represent lung cancer.
  • Present – New colored ribbons continue to be adopted for different health causes.

The success of the pink breast cancer ribbon sparked a trend of using colored ribbons to promote other causes. With widespread adoption of social media, these cancer awareness ribbons continue to grow in recognizability and effectiveness.

Creating New Cancer Ribbons

Many organizations are dedicated to standardizing cancer ribbon colors to avoid duplication and confusion. However, some advocacy groups may create new ribbons for specific cancers or conditions that do not yet have an assigned color. Here are some tips for creating effective new cancer ribbon colors:

  • Research existing ribbons to avoid duplicating colors.
  • Select a distinctive, vibrant shade that prints well and stands out.
  • Make sure the color reflects the cause or has symbolic meaning.
  • Announce and promote the new ribbon through campaigns and events.
  • Gain acceptance by partnering with established cancer organizations.
  • Register the ribbon with standards bodies to make it official.

With strategic planning and consistent promotion, a thoughtfully designed new ribbon color can come to proudly represent its cancer cause.


Cancer ribbons started with a single pink ribbon for breast cancer but have grown into an expansive awareness-building tool. The different colors represent diverse forms of cancer and help raise funds and inspire action. Wearing a cancer ribbon demonstrates personal commitment while honoring those affected by cancer. With their origins in grassroots activism, these simple ribbons continue to make a meaningful difference in the fight against cancer.