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What is the official color of cancer?

What is the official color of cancer?

Cancer affects millions of people worldwide each year. Though there are many different types of cancer, they share some common traits. One thing that often unites cancer patients, survivors, and advocates is the use of color to raise awareness for specific cancer types. But is there an official universal color for all cancers?

The History of Cancer Awareness Colors

The use of colored ribbons to promote awareness of diseases dates back to the late 1970s when AIDS activists wore red ribbons to raise awareness. In the decades since, colored ribbons have become a popular way to promote various causes from Alzheimer’s (purple) to animal adoption (red and white).

For cancer specifically, colored ribbons help raise awareness and show support for those impacted by the disease. They also help raise funds for research and patient support. The first cancer awareness color ribbon campaign began in the early 1990s.

Breast Cancer Pink

In 1991, the Susan G. Komen Foundation distributed pink ribbons to participants in its New York City race for breast cancer survivors. The pink ribbon became a symbol of breast cancer awareness.

October is now designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and pink ribbons are commonly worn to promote screening and early detection. Breast cancer pink has become one of the most recognizable cancer colors.

Subsequent Cancer Awareness Colors

After the success of the pink ribbon, other cancer awareness colors emerged:

Color Cancer Type
Pink Breast Cancer
Orange Leukemia
Yellow Bladder Cancer
Periwinkle Lung Cancer
Burgundy Brain Cancer
Teal Ovarian Cancer
Emerald green Liver Cancer

These colors are not universally standardized but are commonly associated with these cancer types by major cancer foundations and charities.

Is There an Official Universal Cancer Color?

Despite the widespread use of awareness colors, there is no single official universal color that represents all cancers. This is because cancer is not one disease, but many different diseases that affect different parts of the body.

Some organizations have adopted colors to represent cancers in general:

  • The National Cancer Institute uses light purple as their brand color to represent all cancers.
  • The American Cancer Society uses blue for their corporate branding.
  • The World Cancer Day initiative uses orange as a unifying color.

However, these colors function more as organizational branding rather than formal universal representations.

Why There is No Single Cancer Color

There are a few key reasons why there is no official universal cancer awareness color:

  • The great diversity of cancer types makes universal representation difficult.
  • Established awareness campaigns are tied to specific colors already.
  • A universal color could downplay important differences between cancer types.
  • A universal color may be less meaningful than colors tied to causes that resonate personally with supporters.

Organizations often state that people can use any color they find meaningful when supporting friends, family, or fundraising activities not tied to a specific cancer cause.

Other Symbols of Cancer Awareness

Though color is a dominant theme, there are other universal symbols related to cancer advocacy:

The Pink Ribbon

While pink ribbons represent breast cancer specifically, they are also the most widely recognized symbol of cancer awareness in general. Pink ribbons are sometimes used on their own or colored differently to raise awareness or memorialize those lost to other forms of cancer.

The Yellow Daffodil

The Canadian Cancer Society uses the yellow daffodil, birth flower for March, as an icon of hope and to raise awareness. Yellow daffodils are given to cancer patients, sold as fundraising pins, and worn or gifted to memorialize loved ones.

Purple Lavender Ribbon

Since lavender flowers represent solitude and grace, light purple ribbons are sometimes used as a universal cancer awareness symbol. The lavender ribbon is not as common as other colors but still used by some organizations.

Cancer Awareness Symbols by Country

Countries often have their own twists on cancer awareness symbols based on their specific cultures and popular causes:


Canada uses the yellow daffodil as a symbol of cancer society more than awareness ribbons. Purple is also a national color of survivorship.

United Kingdom

The UK uses the pink ribbon most prominently. Blue and orange ribbons are also used for prostate and leukemia cancers awareness respectively.


Australia also heavily uses the pink ribbon symbol. They also use a Airy green ribbon to represent bowel cancer. Yellow is also significant for childhood cancer awareness.

United States

In addition to the pink ribbon, the U.S. has a strong cultural attachments to many colored ribbons that represent regionally prominent cancers. Examples are teal for ovarian cancer and purple for pancreatic cancer.

The Bottom Line

While universal cancer awareness colors exist, there is no one official color that represents cancer as a whole. But the wide variety of colors, ribbons, and symbols does help bring attention to the disease in all its forms. Having numerous options allows more people to find a symbol that resonates with them personally. This diversity of icons ultimately furthers the goal of educating people about cancer, promoting screening and early detection, remembering those we’ve lost, and pushing for better treatments for all who are affected by cancer.


Cancer affects millions and has touched most people’s lives in some way. The use of colored ribbons and other awareness symbols allows people to publicly show their support for cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, and those who have passed. While there is no single universal color, the growing palette of cancer awareness icons creates diverse options for remembrance and promoting progress against the disease. Ultimately, any color or symbol that supports the cause in a meaningful way can help spread awareness and hope.