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Everything to know about Kate Middleton's health: Princess reveals cancer treatment

The news came as a “huge shock” the princess said in her video statement.
/ Source: TODAY

In a video announcement, the Princess of Wales announced she is undergoing preventive chemotherapy on March 22.

Now, for the first time since the announcement, Prince William, will resume his Royal Duties the palace said in a statement on April 16. William is set to visit Surrey and West London on “To spotlight the community and environmental impact (organizations) in the area are having through their work,” the Palace said.

This news follows weeks of speculation about Kate's health and her whereabouts since she wasn't seen by the public for nearly three months and Prince Williams dropped out of a few engagements.

In princess’ statement, Kate addressed her absence and shared that she's been receiving treatment for cancer.

“In January, I underwent major abdominal surgery in London, and at the time, it was thought that my condition was non cancerous,” Kate, 42, said in the video statement released by Kensington Palace.

“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 preventive chemotherapy and I’m now in the early stages of that treatment,” she said.

Preventive chemotherapy, also called adjuvant chemotherapy, generally refers to a treatment conducted after initial interventions that aims to prevent cancer from returning, Dr. Ben Ho Park, director of precision oncology at Vanderbilt School of Medicine, told on March 22.

The news, Kate said, came as “huge shock,” and so, she’s chosen to deal with it in private. Her priority, she said is to protect her children. “William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family,” she added.

In January, the Palace announced that Kate would be undergoing abdominal surgery which it writes was “planned” and that she wouldn’t be making appearances or attending to her duties until April, specifically after Easter. Kate was last seen the month before at a Christmas service.

Since this announcement and since Easter, Kate hasn't made any public appearances and the feed for joint Instagram account she shares with Prince William has been quiet. Prince William did post an Instagram story, however, in honor of Rachel Daly, a soccer player who retired from the national team on April 10.

While people had much to say about what might have been keeping Kate out of the public eye, this video announcement is the first and only time Kate has address her absence and her health herself.

What type of cancer does Kate Middleton have?

Kate did not specify what type of cancer she has and the Palace hasn't given an update since her video address. She shared that doctors discovered she had cancer through tests they conducted after her abdominal surgery.

Park told the most common types of cancer discovered through abdominal surgery are gastrointestinal, such as colon or stomach, or genital or urinary. He stressed, however, that “it could be anything.”

Until now, many royal sleuths were questioning where Kate has been, why she was not joining her husband at speaking engagements and when she might return.

Ahead, find the timeline detailing Kate’s health.

What is preventive chemotherapy?

Clinical trials have found that chemotherapy after initial treatment, such as surgery, which Kate had, can reduce the risk of the cancer recurring, Park said.

“Even though the surgeons have removed everything they can see, there could still be cancer cells floating around in the body that, if left untreated, may come back later (and) is then incurable,” Park added.

Park said the purpose of preventive chemotherapy is “trying to maximize” the treatment a patient has already received to eliminate all of the cancer cells.

The palace has not confirmed what kind of cancer Kate’s doctors found following her surgery, but preventive or adjuvant chemotherapy is “typically used for breast, colon, ovarian or lung cancer,” Dr. Tara Narula, NBC medical contributor, explained during a TODAY segment on March 25. And treatment typically lasts between three and six months, she added.

Whether her chemotherapy treatments are administered via IV or pill, Narula said Kate’s preventive treatment is the same kind that would be given to someone with an advanced cancer though the duration and intensity might be shorter.

The side effects will likely be the same too: “Fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding, bruising, infections,” Narula said. And long term, the princess might experience cardiovascular complications, fertility issues and any number of effects to her organs like anyone else.

“This is not a walk in the park,” said Narula. Kate’s age might help her better tolerate treatment but that’s not a sure thing. “When we say the term ‘preventive,’ it sounds light and fluffy, but she may be going through a lot this time,” Narula notes.

December 2023

The princess’s most recent public appearance with husband Prince William and their three children — George, 10, Charlotte, 8, and Louis, 5 — came in late 2023 during their annual Christmas church outing at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Sandringham, near one of the king’s royal estates.

January 2024

Kensington Palace announced that Kate had undergone "planned abdominal surgery" on Jan. 16.

In the statement, released the following day, Kensington Palace wrote: "The surgery was successful and it is expected that she will remain in hospital for ten to fourteen days, before returning home to continue her recovery. Based on the current medical advice, she is unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter."

The statement went on to say that it would only provide updates that were "significant."

It’s likely, however, that doctors had to cut through her abdominal wall muscles, which can be “very painful,” gastroenterologist Dr. Roshini Raj explained in a Jan. 18 segment on TODAY.

“It does take a while for those muscles to heal, for you to be back to your fighting function, being able to lift heavy things or walk a long period of time,” she explained. “We often tell people after abdominal surgery, you’re not going to be 100% for probably three months.”

“You have to manage pain afterward, there’s the possibility of wound infection, and there’s weakness and fatigue,” Raj added.

William was by his wife’s bedside in a visit to the hospital on Jan. 18. Kate was discharged from London Clinic, a private hospital, on Jan. 29, 13 days after the procedure took place.

The palace said in a Jan. 29 statement: “The Princess of Wales has returned home to Windsor to continue her recovery from surgery. She is making good progress.”

“The Prince and Princess wish to say a huge thank you to the entire team at The London Clinic, especially the dedicated nursing staff, for the care they have provided,” the statement continued. “The Wales family continues to be grateful for the well wishes they have received from around the world.”

Kate is expected to be recuperating for two to three months following the surgery, a palace source told NBC News at the time.

When revealing that Kate needed abdominal surgery, the palace said: “The Princess of Wales appreciates the interest this statement will generate. She hopes the public will understand her desire to maintain as much normality for her children as possible; and her wish that her personal medical information remains private.”

The palace’s message added that Kate “wishes to apologize” for having to postpone her upcoming engagements.

“She looks forward to reinstating as many as possible, as soon as possible,” the statement said.

A Kensington Palace source told NBC News in mid-January that William would be postponing appearances in the coming months and not conduct any official duties while his wife was in the hospital or immediately after she returned home.

Because they royals had to postpone engagements due to Kate’s surgery, Raj wondered about the extent to which the procedure was planned: “If I had a patient who I said needs surgery in two days, that’s a pretty urgent situation. I don’t consider that truly elective,” Raj said.

Catherine previously experienced health complications during each of her three pregnancies. She had to be treated in the hospital for hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe type of morning sickness, when she was pregnant with the couple’s oldest child, George, and also had the condition with Charlotte and Louis.

February 2024

William pulled out of attending his godfather’s memorial service due to a “personal matter.” In a statement to NBC News on Feb. 27, the palace wouldn’t elaborate on the reason for William’s absence but said Kate “continues to be doing well.”

After releasing Kate's video, Kensington Palace confirmed that the prince did not attend the service due to his wife's diagnosis.

In late February, the palace issued another statement about her recovery, explaining that her absence from the public eye shouldn’t be unexpected.

“Kensington Palace made it clear in January the timelines of the Princess’ recovery and we’d only be providing significant updates,” a spokesperson for the princess said in a statement to NBC News on Feb. 29. “That guidance stands.”

March 2024

The first photo of Kate since the surgery was from March 5. Grainy images showed her in the passenger seat of a black SUV that appeared to be driven by her mother near Windsor Castle. The palace declined to comment on these photos.

On March 6, Gary Goldsmith, the princess’ uncle, commented on her condition in an episode of “Celebrity Big Brother (UK).”

Housemate Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu asked Goldsmith about Kate’s whereabouts. Goldsmith acknowledged Kate’s request for privacy, but went on to say, “If it’s announced, I’ll give an opinion.”

He also mentioned having spoken to his sister, Kate’s mother, and said, “She’s getting the best care in the world. And all the family’s done is put the wagons ‘round and look after family first before anything else.”

In his introduction for the show, Goldsmith described himself as “the uncle to the future queen of our country, Catherine Middleton, the current princess of Wales” before describing Kate as “simply perfect.”

A photo, posted on social media in honor of U.K. Mother’s Day on March 10, was the first official one released of Catherine since the surgery. According to the palace, it was taken by William the week prior.

It showed Kate with her three children. Alongside it, she also shared her first message since the procedure: “Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months. Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day.”

But within several hours of the photo being shared, it was retracted by major news agencies, including the Associated Press and Reuters, due to “manipulation.”

Kate addressed the controversy in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, writing, “Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing. I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused. I hope everyone celebrating had a very happy Mother’s Day. C.”

The AP explained its decision to retract the photo in a statement to NBC News: “The Associated Press initially published the photo, which was issued by Kensington Palace. The AP later retracted the image because at closer inspection, it appears that the source had manipulated the image in a way that did not meet AP’s photo standards. The photo shows an inconsistency in the alignment of Princess Charlotte’s left hand.”

Reuters issued a similar editor’s note, withdrawing the image after “a post publication review.”

Recently, some social media users speculated a March 11 photograph of Kate and William leaving their Windsor Castle residence was photoshopped. (A royal spokesperson confirmed at the time that they were attending a “private appointment.”)

But the agency that distributed it, Goff Photos, told in a statement that it was only “cropped and lightened, nothing has been doctored!”

When William attended memorial event on March 14 that honored the legacy of his mother, the late Princess Diana, Kate was not with him. He mentioned his wife once, briefly.

“(My mother) taught me that everyone has the potential to give something back, that everyone in need deserves a supporting hand in life,” the future king said. “That legacy is something that both Catherine and I saw to focus on in our work.”

The princess also missed a yearly tradition on Sunday of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with the Irish Guards. Despite her absence, the guards celebrated her by giving three cheers to the colonel, a title Kate has held since 2022.

The next day, on March 18, a video reportedly of Kate and William at a market in Windsor taken over the weekend began to circulate online. Kensington Palace declined to comment on the footage.

The latest former Kate Middleton news came two days later, on March 20. U.K. newspaper The Mirror reported that at least one member on staff at The London Clinic, the hospital where Kate underwent surgery, allegedly tried to access her medical records. In response, Kensington Palace told NBC News, “This is a matter for The London Clinic.”

While The London Clinic did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment from NBC News, it told The Mirror: “We firmly believe that all our patients, no matter their status, deserve total privacy and confidentiality regarding their medical information.”

On March 22, in a video statement, the Princess of Wales announced she was undergoing treatment for cancer. Following the abdominal surgery she had in January, doctors found that "cancer had been present," Kate said.

As a "preventative" measure, she said she is receiving chemotherapy.

Preventive or adjuvant chemotherapy is given to someone whose already received treatment for cancer, such as surgery. It's the same chemotherapy someone might have to treat cancer that is knowingly present somewhere in their bodies. In this case, doctors are trying to reduce the likelihood of the disease returning.

It's been a trying time, but as Kate said she's told her children, "I am well and getting stronger every day by focusing on the things that will help me heal in my mind, body and spirits."

She added: "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."

As she continues to recover, she asked for privacy and space during this time.

"My work has always brought me a deep sense of joy, and I look forward to being back when I'm able. But for now, I must focus on making a full recovery," Kate went on before addressing anyone who's been affected by cancer.

"For everyone facing this disease, in whatever form, please do not lose faith or hope. You are not alone."

The news about Kate's treatment comes soon after King Charles announced his cancer diagnosis. On day Kate filmed and released her video announcement she and the king had lunch.

“This new experience for them both will really cement what has long been a very affectionate bond between the king and his beloved daughter-in-law,” Hello magazine royal editor Emily Nash said on March 25 on TODAY.

April 2024

William, the prince of Wales, returned to royal duties. An April 16 statement released by the Palace said that on April 18 the prince was due to visit Surplus to Supper, “a surplus food redistribution charity, where he will see how surplus food from across the local area is delivered, sorted and re-packaged for delivery to small community (organizations)," the statement read.

He will also travel to West London to visit a youth center that receives these meals

These visits mark the first official engagements for the prince since Kate announced she was undergoing treatment for a form of cancer which is still unspecified.

CLARIFICATION: (March 10, 2024, 8:02 p.m.): An earlier version of this article included the image shared by Kensington Palace of Kate Middleton and her children. The photo was later removed from this article due to claims it was “manipulated.”