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Meanings of Colors for Cancer Ribbons: Advocating for All Cancers

By HERWriter
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Meanings for Colors of Cancer Ribbons: Advocating for All Cancers padrinan_alba/fotolia

Today there are ribbons to signify support for all types of illnesses. It can be a bit overwhelming to see so many colors and not know what at least some of them stand for.

The idea to show recognition using ribbons has roots in early times when Napoleon was quoted as saying, “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.”1

Many of you may remember the 1973 hit song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,”about a man returning from prison after three long years, not knowing if his wife still loved him. He instructed her to tie a yellow ribbon around an old oak tree if she still wanted him to come home. She covered the tree in yellow ribbons.

In 1981, Penelope Laingen, wife of the U.S. chargé d’affaires in Tehran, tied a yellow ribbon to a tree in front of her home in Maryland while waiting to welcome her husband Bruce Laingen home from Iran.

A red ribbon became known in the 1990s for AIDS awareness. Since that time, ribbons have been used to show support for many illnesses. Some of the same colors are used to signify different types of cancer.

Some of the more common types of cancer are listed below. Many offer descriptions from links to Verywell.com, Cancer.gov and the American Cancer Association.

All types of cancer — Light Purple or Lavender ribbon

Bladder Cancer — Yellow

Bone Cancer — Yellow

Bone Marrow Transplant — Yellow

Brain Cancer — Gray

Breast Cancer (Women) — Pink

Breast Cancer (Hereditary ) — Teal and Pink

Breast and Gynecologic Cancers together — Teal and Pink

Breast Cancer (Men) — Light Pink and Baby Blue

Cancer Survivor — Purple

Cervical Cancer — Teal and White

Cholangiocarcinoma — Yellow

Chondrosarcoma — Yellow

Colorectal and Colon Cancer — Blue or Brown

Endometrial Cancer — Peach

Esophageal Cancer — Light Purple or Periwinkle

Ewing's Sarcoma — Yellow

Gallbladder Cancer — Yellow

Gastric Cancer — Periwinkle Blue

Glioblastoma — Gray

Gynecological Cancer — Teal
Cervical Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, Uterine Cancer and Vaginal Cancer — also Teal

Head and Neck Cancer — Burgundy and Ivory or Red and White

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma — Violet

Kidney Cancer (Renal Cell Carcinoma) — Green or Orange

Laryngeal Cancer — Burgundy and White

Leiomyosarcoma — Purple

Leukemia — Orange

Leukemia and Lymphoma Together — Red/White/Red Stripes

Liver Cancer — Emerald or Jade Green

Lung Cancer — Pearl, Clear or White

Lymphedema — Light Blue

Lymphoma (Non-Hodgkins) — Lime Green

Melanoma — Black

Mesothelioma — Pearl or Black

Myeloma — Burgundy

Myeloproliferative Diseases — Orange and Red

Neuroendocrine Cancers — Black and White (Zebra)

Oral Cancer — Burgundy and White or Red and White

Osteosarcoma — Yellow

Pancreatic Cancer — Purple

Pharyngeal Cancer — Burgundy and White

Prostate Cancer — Light Blue

Rare Diseases (Including Rare Cancers) — Black and White (Zebra)

Rectal Cancer — Blue

Retinoblastoma — White

Sarcoma — Yellow

Skin Cancer — Orange (with a sun)

Skin Cancer (Squamous Cell Carcinoma) — Red and White

Small Intestine Cancer — Periwinkle Blue

Stomach Cancer — Periwinkle Blue

Testicular Cancer — Purple (Orchid or Violet)

Throat Cancer — Burgundy and White

Thyroid Cancer — Blue/Pink-Purple/Teal

Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in women’s health care and quality of care issues.

Edited by Jody Smith

1) Awareness Ribbons - How It All Started. About.com. Retrieved Nov. 12, 2016.

2) Cancer Ribbon Colors and Meanings. VeryWell.com. Retrieved Nov. 12, 2016.  

 3)  “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree” tops the U.S. pop charts and creates a cultural phenomenon. History.com. Retrieved Nov. 12, 2016.  

4) The forgotten cause of the Red Ribbon. ABC.net. Retrieved Nov. 12, 2016.  

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