What Is Preventative Chemotherapy?

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What Is Preventative Chemotherapy?Karwai Tang - Getty Images

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The Princess of Wales revealed in a personal video this afternoon that she is getting “preventative chemotherapy” after doctors identified cancer following an abdominal surgery. But what exactly is preventative chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy in general is “a drug treatment that uses powerful chemicals to kill fast-growing cells in your body,” per the The Mayo Clinic.

However, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), preventative chemotherapy is “the large-scale delivery of safe, single-administration, quality-assured medicines, either alone or in combination, at regular intervals, to entire population groups.” Usually, this type of treatment is used for populations at risk of contracting human helminth diseases.

In this instance, it seems like Princess Kate might be referring more to something called “chemoprevention,” which, according to the National Cancer Institute, is “the use of certain drugs or other substances to help lower a person’s risk of developing cancer or keep it from coming back.”

Kensington Palace has not disclosed what type of cancer the princess has, and she did not elucidate in her video. Still, there are a range of drugs, like tamoxifen and raloxifene, which can be used to prevent certain types of cancer, especially in individuals who have a higher chance of developing the disease.

And while it’s unclear how far along in her treatment Princess Kate has gone, a Kensington Palace insider told Bazaar that she began the chemotherapy in late February. “The princess is now on a recovery pathway having commenced a course of preventative chemotherapy in late February,” they said.

Of her current state, they they added, “The Princess will return to official duties when she is cleared to do so by her medical team. She is in good spirits and is focused on making a full recovery.”

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