Kate, Princess of Wales, announces cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy treatment

 Kate, the Princess of Wales, has cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy, she revealed Friday in a stunning announcement that followed weeks of speculation about her health and whereabouts.

The princess disclosed her condition in a video message recorded Wednesday in Windsor and broadcast Friday. It came after relentless speculation on social media ever since January when she was hospitalized for unspecified abdominal surgery.

Kate asked for “time, space, and privacy” while she was treated for an unspecified type of cancer that was discovered after what she described as “major” surgery.

Wearing a casual striped sweater and jeans, Kate sat on a wooden bench in front of a lawn dotted with daffodils. The flowers, which bloom in early spring, are often used as a symbol of hope for people fighting cancer.

“I am well,” she said. “I am getting stronger every day by focusing on the things that will help me heal.”

Kate, 42, hadn’t been seen publicly since Christmas until video surfaced this week of her with her husband, Prince William, heir to the throne. It showed them walking from a shop that sells produce grown on the royal family’s Windsor estate.

The news is another jolt for the royal family since the announcement last month that King Charles III was being treated for an unspecified type of cancer that was discovered while undergoing a procedure for a benign enlarged prostate.

Charles said he is “so proud of Catherine for her courage in speaking as she did,” according to a statement released by Buckingham Palace. The king, who received prostate treatment in the same hospital and at the same time Kate had her surgery, remained in the “closest contact with his beloved daughter-in-law” in the past weeks.

The king and Queen Camilla “will continue to offer their love and support to the whole family through this difficult time,” the palace said.

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, who have been estranged from William and Kate since their move to California in 2020, wished the princess well.

“We wish health and healing for Kate and the family, and hope they can do so privately and in peace,” they said in a statement.

Before Friday, Kensington Palace had given little detail about Kate’s condition beyond saying it wasn’t cancer-related, the surgery was successful and recuperation would keep the princess away from public duties until April. Kate said it had been thought that her condition was non-cancerous until post-surgery tests revealed the diagnosis.

“This of course came as a huge shock, and William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family,” she said.

By choosing to speak directly to the country and the world about her condition, rather than issuing a statement through the palace, Kate offered a level of intimacy and transparency atypical of a member of the royal family and may help tamp down runaway conjecture. The king’s disclosure of his condition was also notably open by royal standards.

Kate said it had taken her time to recover from the surgery before starting “preventative” treatment, which she said was in the early stages.

Dr. Shivan Sivakumar, associate professor in oncology at the University of Birmingham, said it’s unclear what the princess meant by “preventative” chemotherapy but he presumed that it’s what is known as “adjuvant” chemotherapy in the medical profession.

“This is chemotherapy after an operation to prevent recurrence,” he said. “This is to attempt to destroy any circulating cancer cells.”

Kate said it has been “an incredibly tough couple of months” for her family. She said it had taken time to tell her three children Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis in a way “appropriate for them” and reassure them she would be OK.

The announcement came after the start of the Easter holidays, which will shield the children from media coverage of the news.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement that Kate “has shown tremendous bravery.””

“We are incredibly sad to hear of the news,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who opened her briefing with reporters moments after news of cancer treatment broke. “We are taking this in, this terrible news, as all of you are.”

Charles, 75, has withdrawn from public duties while he has cancer treatment, though he’s appeared frequently in photos carrying on meetings with government officials and dignitaries and was even seen going to church.

Kate, on the other hand, had been out of view instead of appearing at charity events and promoting causes such as supporting children early in life, leading to weeks of speculation and gossip. Attempts to put rumors to bed by releasing a photo of her on Mother’s Day in the U.K. surrounded by her three smiling children backfired when The Associated Press and other news agencies retracted the image because it had been manipulated.

Kate issued a statement the next day acknowledging she liked to “experiment with editing” and apologizing for “any confusion” the photo had caused. But that did little to quell the speculation.

Even the footage published by The Sun and TMZ that appeared to show Kate and William shopping sparked a new flurry of rumor-mongering, with some armchair sleuths refusing to believe the video showed Kate at all.

Earlier this week, a British privacy watchdog said it was investigating a report that staff at the private London hospital where she was treated tried to snoop on her medical records while she was a patient for abdominal surgery.

The former Kate Middleton, who married William in a fairy-tale wedding in 2011, has boosted the popularity and appeal of the British monarchy worldwide more than any royal since Princess Diana.

The princess is the oldest of three children brought up in a well-to-do neighborhood in Berkshire, west of London. The Middletons have no aristocratic background, and the British press often referred to Kate as a “commoner” marrying into royalty.

Her brother James Middleton posted on Instagram: “Over the years, we have climbed many mountains together. As a family, we will climb this one with you too.”

Kate attended the private school Marlborough College and then the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where she met William around 2001. Friends and housemates at first, their relationship became widely publicized when they were pictured together on a skiing holiday in Switzerland in 2004.

Kate graduated in 2005 with a degree in art history and a budding relationship with the prince.

Kensington Palace did not release details on what type of cancer the princess has, nor did it specify what stage the cancer is or her possible prognosis. But what we do know is that, as a 42-year-old woman, she is far from alone in her diagnosis: Worldwide, more and more people under 50 are developing cancers.

Cancer typically strikes those who are in their 50s, 60s, or even older. Yet, in recent decades, early-onset cancers — which are usually defined as occurring in patients younger than 50 — are occurring at a higher rate, particularly in wealthy countries. As illustrated in the chart below, a 2023 BMJ analysis found that the early onset of 29 different cancers had risen nearly 80 percent globally between 1990 and 2019.

Dylan Scott/Vox

Separately, a study published in JAMA Network Open the same year concluded that the occurrence of a wide range of cancers among people under 50 had increased between 2010 to 2019 among American adults, particularly among women.

Much of the increase is attributable to colon and rectal cancers: In 2019, there were about 5.7 cases of colorectal cancer among 100,000 people ages 14 to 49. That’s up 63 percent since 1990 when there were approximately only 3.5 cases per 100,000 people. Breast, cervical, and skin cancers are still the most likely cancers to develop in adults under 50, but individual cases of colorectal cancers taking the lives of well-known celebrities, like actor Chadwick Boseman in 2020, have made that trend more visible in recent years.

Cancers of the bladder, kidney, ovaries, pancreas, prostate, thyroid, and uterus also became significantly more common in the nearly three decades covered by the global investigation published in BMJ.

John Marshall, director of the Ruesch Center for the Cure of Gastrointestinal Cancers at Georgetown University, told me recently that, early in his career, he rarely saw a patient under 50. Today, half of his patients are in that age range, and many of them appear to be healthy and fit. At first, these young patients usually came in with colorectal cancer, but Marshall has increasingly seen younger people with cancers attacking other parts of the gastrointestinal tract.

No single factor is to blame for this widespread uptick in numerous cancers among young people, particularly the rise in the gastrointestinal system, but scientists are starting to put together a picture of the reality behind one of the most important medical mysteries of our time.

One review published in Frontiers in Nutrition in 2022 found several dietary factors were associated with early-onset colorectal cancer. Eating a lot of deep-fried and processed foods, foods high in fat, and sugary drinks and desserts was a significant risk factor, as was having a diet low in fiber. Other studies have found higher alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of developing cancer early.

Toxins in our environment, such as microplastics, could also be a contributing factor. These tiny particles can be found in everything from food containers to synthetic clothing, before making their way into our bodies and our GI tracts.

One New Zealand research team concluded the upticks in cancers among young adults matched the timeline that we would expect from the multiplication of microplastics in the environment. Cellular and rodent models have suggested that microplastics could promote tumor growth. Though more research is needed, these materials contain chemicals that can disrupt hormones and pose a risk to our health.

But these are still theories. While the mystery behind Catherine’s disappearance from public life these past few months has now been solved, scientists still don’t fully understand what is primarily driving earlier-in-life cancer cases. What we do know is that such stories are becoming all too common.

 Kate, Princess of Wales, has released a statement saying she has been diagnosed with cancer.

In it, she said she wanted to thank people for their messages of support after her abdominal surgery in January. She said her condition was initially thought to be non-cancerous but tests after the operation found cancer.

She said she is undergoing “preventative chemotherapy” for the disease.

Read the full transcript of the video Kate released Friday about her cancer diagnosis:


“I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you, personally, for all the wonderful messages of support and for your understanding whilst I have been recovering from surgery.

“It has been an incredibly tough couple of months for our entire family, but I’ve had a fantastic medical team who have taken great care of me, for which I am so grateful.

“In January, I underwent major abdominal surgery in London and at the time, it was thought that my condition was non-cancerous. The surgery was successful. However, tests after the operation found cancer had been present. My medical team therefore advised that I should undergo a course of preventative chemotherapy and I am now in the early stages of that treatment.

“This of course came as a huge shock, and William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family.

“As you can imagine, this has taken time. It has taken me time to recover from major surgery to start my treatment. But, most importantly, it has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte, and Louis in a way that is appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be ok.

“As I have said to them; I am well and getting stronger every day by focusing on the things that will help me heal; in my mind, body, and spirit.

“Having William by my side is a great source of comfort and reassurance too. As is the love, support, and kindness that has been shown by so many of you. It means so much to us both.

“We hope that you will understand that, as a family, we now need some time, space, and privacy while I complete my treatment. My work has always brought me a deep sense of joy and I look forward to being back when I am able, but for now, I must focus on making a full recovery.

“At this time, I am also thinking of all those whose lives have been affected by cancer. For everyone facing this disease, in whatever form, please do not lose faith or hope. You are not alone.”


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