Each color shown on a cancer ribbon chart represents one of about 30 types of cancer, ranging from breast cancer to leukemia, according to Choose Hope. Cancer survivors, along with their friends and family, often show their support and solidarity by sporting merchandise that bears a cancer ribbon.
Cancer ribbons come in all colors of the rainbow, explains Choose Hope. Lung cancer is represented with a white ribbon, ovarian cancer is teal, and pancreatic cancer is purple. Some ribbons are multicolored, like the bladder cancer ribbon, which is marigold, blue and purple. The thyroid cancer ribbon is also multicolored in teal, pink and blue. Gallbladder cancer and bile duct cancer are both represented by the same kelly green ribbon. Some ribbons are not linked to specific types of cancer, such as the gold ribbon, which represents childhood cancer. The lavender ribbon and the multicolored ribbon symbolize awareness of all types of cancer. The plum ribbon is unique because it does not represent a type of cancer but instead honors caregivers of those living with cancer.
The first type of cancer associated with a ribbon was breast cancer. According to Sandy M. Fernandez for Breast Cancer Action, the editor of Self magazine partnered with Estée Lauder in 1992 to raise awareness for breast cancer, and the symbol they chose to further their cause was a pink ribbon. Awareness about prevention and treatment climbed as more ribbons were introduced.