Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month: Date, History + Colors


Pancreatic cancer occurs when cancer cells begin growing in the pancreas and may spread to other parts of the body. In the United States alone, approximately 60,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year. A reported 7% of cancer deaths in the US are due to pancreatic cancer. 

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It’s important to raise awareness about pancreatic cancer, early diagnosis, and research. Each November, people across the globe take part in Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. This is a month-long event for raising awareness, supporting those affected by pancreatic cancer, and fundraising for research. 

What do you need to know about Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month? Whether you’re simply curious about how to help or you know someone affected by this type of cancer, this guide explores the history behind this month and ways to take action. 

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What Is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month?

Like other awareness months, Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month is time to shine a light on this specific type of cancer. Anyone can participate in the awareness month, whether you’re a patient, advocate, healthcare provider, volunteer, researcher, survivor, or you just want to help! 

During Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, there’s an emphasis on the following goals:

  • Early detection: First and foremost, this month highlights the importance of knowing the risk factors and symptoms for pancreatic cancer. Because it often has vague symptoms, early detection can be a challenge. 
  • Education: Though over 60,000 people receive this diagnosis each year, most people aren’t as familiar with this specific type of cancer compared to others. 
  • Support: November is also a time to help those currently afflicted. From sharing positive messages for cancer patients to learning how to support a loved one with cancer, this is an integral part of the month. 
  • Fundraising: There is a lot of research to be done for all types of cancers, especially pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month is a time to hold fundraising events to fund critical research. 
  • Remembrance: Unfortunately, many have lost their lives and loved ones to pancreatic cancer. This is a time to honor all lives lost and create something special in their memory. 

Different parts of the country and world have their own ways to honor Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. There are no strict rules on how this time is to be observed, but it’s great to get involved any way you can. 

What Is the History of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month?

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month started small with only a 3-person team. Founded by Pamela Acosta Marquardt, Paul Kim, and Terry Lierman in 1999, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCan) created a time specifically for honoring those living with pancreatic cancer. 

In 2000, the action network participated in the inaugural One Voice Against Cancer advocacy days in Washington, DC. Soon, this force grew to over 40 volunteers. By 2002, they raised nearly $364,000 from their efforts for pancreatic cancer research. 

Since these early days, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has raised over 126 million for research investment. With over 270,000 patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals calling upon the organization for support, this has become one of the most effective cancer advocacy groups. 

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network also leads the nation (and the world) in Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. What started as a single day of awareness has grown into a month-long opportunity to share stories, help current patients and caretakers, and fund essential research. 

When Is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month?

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month is in November every year. World Pancreatic Cancer Day is officially held on November 19th. However, the entire month is full of events and activities to honor the fight for a cure. 

There is a lot of important symbolism behind November. Though November rests right before the colder winter season, it’s also a reminder that spring always follows. It’s a time of change, perseverance, and strength. 

What Is the Ribbon Color for Pancreatic Cancer?

Wearing ribbons is a way to subtly show support for a cause you care about. For pancreatic cancer, supporters wear purple ribbons. These colors aren’t chosen at random. In the case of pancreatic cancer, the color purple represents never-ending love. 

One of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network founders found little support as her mother battled pancreatic cancer for several years. After she passed, PanCAN chose purple in honor of her favorite color. Today, this color is still used during November to honor all of those affected by pancreatic cancer. 

Purple also has its own powerful symbolism. Seen as the color of royalty and wisdom, this is a spiritual color that hints at something greater. Though simple, wearing purple shows that you stand in solidarity with those who need it most. 

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How Can You Participate in Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month?

There are so many ways to get involved this November. Whether you start a discussion online, join a local community group, or take the time to educate yourself, you’re fighting for a better tomorrow. Here are some easy ways to get involved no matter where you live. 

Light it purple

One of the many ways to celebrate World Pancreatic Cancer Day is by lighting a purple light. Purple lights are worn, placed in windows, and glow at fundraising events to represent that the “light” of support will never burn out. 


Volunteering at a local hospital or with a local branch of PanCAN is an inspiring way to give back. Whether you collect gifts for children with cancer or volunteer at a local hospital, this is one of the best ways to honor Pancreatic Awareness Month. 

Share on social media

Social media can be a force for good. Each November, PanCAN asks people to share a photo of themselves or a loved one wearing purple with the hashtag #PanCANforProgress. This connects you with the world, a reminder that pancreatic cancer affects so many. 

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If you are able, a donation goes a long way. By giving to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, your money helps fund research breakthroughs as well as patient support. Giving is easy and can be done online. You can also host a mini-fundraiser with your social circle. 

Where should you donate? It can be challenging to find the right organizations, so here are the top-rated pancreatic cancer organizations on Charity Navigator:

  • Pancreatic Cancer Action Network: PanCAN is the leading national organization for research, resources, and volunteer opportunities. 
  • Lustgarten Foundation: Lustgarten is the largest private funder of pancreatic cancer research, and 100% of every donation goes to research. 
  • Stand Up to Cancer: Stand Up to Cancer has specific research Dream Teams that focus on pancreatic cancer.

Learn the signs

If you do nothing else this November, learn the signs of pancreatic cancer. This is a difficult disease to detect in its earliest stages since it can present as something else. By learning the signs, you can advocate for yourself and loved ones. 

Mayo Clinic is a great place to find a healthcare provider and learn the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer. When in doubt, be sure to talk to your doctor about your specific risk-factors for pancreatic cancer. 

Join the team

The Hirshberg Training Team is led by one of the leading organizations fighting against pancreatic cancer. If you want to hit the road for a good cause, you can register to train with the official running team. With a variety of in-person and virtual runs, raise money with each mile you run. Even if you’re not a runner yourself, you can support someone else as they get fit for a cure. 

Shop Amazon Smile

Amazon Smile is a special way to shop on amazon while raising money for charity. When you make a purchase through the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research’s Amazon Smile profile, a percentage of everything you spend goes to the organization. Though it might not seem like a lot, every penny counts. 

Create a Brighter Tomorrow This November

Showing support for those affected by pancreatic cancer doesn’t have to be complicated. From learning what to say when a loved one’s family member has cancer to understanding the early signs, these are all important steps towards a better tomorrow. Pancreatic cancer affects so many people worldwide, from patients to their loved ones. 

Change won’t happen overnight, but it will happen when we come together for a greater cause. Whether you know someone affected by pancreatic cancer or you simply wish to contribute to a good cause, you’re prepared to take action this November. 


  1. “About Us.” Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
  2. “Key Statistics for Pancreatic Cancer.” American Cancer Society.

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