The Princess of Wales’ cancer diagnosis: What we know

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Catherine, Princess of Wales, revealed she has been diagnosed with cancer and is in the “early stages” of treatment.

In a video message released Friday, Kate said the diagnosis came after she had underwent abdominal surgery in January. Her condition was initially thought to be non-cancerous, but later tests “found cancer had been present,” she said.

Kate, 42, had been mostly absent from the public eye since her surgery in January, causing wild speculation about her health to swirl.

The shock diagnosis comes after King Charles III was also diagnosed with cancer following a procedure for an enlarged prostate.

Here’s what we know.

What did Kate say?

Kate released a video Friday afternoon to provide an update on her health, two months after she stepped away from public life temporarily after her initial treatment.

“In January, I underwent major abdominal surgery in London and at the time, it was thought that my condition was non-cancerous,” said Kate, who is married to the heir to the British throne, Prince William.

“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.”

She said her diagnosis had been a “huge shock” and that “William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family.”

Kate and William have three children: Prince George, 10; Princess Charlotte, 8; and Prince Louis, 5.

A royal source told CNN that Kate began chemotherapy in late February, and that she and William had waited until now to reveal her condition because Friday was the day their children began their Easter school holidays.

“It has taken me time to recover from major surgery in order 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,” she said in the video message.

Kate did not say what type of cancer she had been diagnosed with.

Preventative chemotherapy is often used after surgery as an “adjuvant” therapy, to weaken the chances of cancer returning, Dr. Karen Knudsen, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society, told CNN.

She had been expected to return to official duties after Easter, but will now postpone further work until she has been cleared to do so by her medical team, the source said.

What has the reaction been?

King Charles said he is “so proud” of Catherine, his daughter-in-law, for “her courage in speaking as she did” in sharing her cancer diagnosis, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said late Friday.

Charles said he “remained in the closest contact” with Kate since they received treatment at the same London hospital, and that he and Queen Camilla will “continue to offer their love and support to the whole family through this difficult time.”

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Kate’s statement showed “tremendous bravery,” and added that she had been “unfairly treated” during weeks of “intense scrutiny” by the press and on social media.

The White House said the Biden administration was “incredibly sad to hear of the news” and wished her a full recovery.

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, said: “We wish health and healing for Kate and the family, and hope they are able to do so privately and in peace.”

When was Kate first hospitalized?

Kensington Palace announced on January 17 that the princess would spend two weeks recovering in hospital after successfully undergoing planned abdominal surgery.

It was unclear what the surgery was for, but the palace said Kate was unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter, which falls this year on March 31.

Kate was discharged from the London Clinic – a private hospital near Regent’s Park in the center of the UK capital – on January 29. She returned home to Windsor, west of London, to continue her recovery.

Charles was discharged from the same private hospital on the same day as Kate, after receiving treatment for an enlarged prostate. Buckingham Palace announced on February 6 that he was diagnosed with cancer.

What happened to Kate after leaving hospital?

Kate’s health and whereabouts became the subject of frenzied speculation, despite the palace reiterating that it had “made clear in January the timelines of the Princess’ recovery” and that the public should not expect to see her until after Easter.

Kate was first seen in public earlier this month after she was spotted in Windsor wearing dark sunglasses and sitting in the front passenger seat of a car driven by her mother, Carole Middleton.

CNN decided not to publish the paparazzi shot, and neither did most major British media organizations, as the press weighed public fascination in Kate’s health with the need to respect privacy laws.

What about the Mother’s Day photograph?

Speculation about Kate’s health continued, putting pressure on the family to reveal more details.

In what appeared to be an attempt to put an end to rumors, Kate published an official photograph of her and her three children – George, Charlotte and Louis – on Mother’s Day, which was marked in the UK on March 10.

But instead of ending the speculation, it fueled it instead, after members of the public swiftly noticed several irregularities about the image.

Why was Charlotte’s sleeve cuff blurred? And why was her skirt at a strange angle? Why was Kate’s zipper misaligned? Where was her ring? And why did the children have their fingers crossed?

Multiple global news agencies recalled the image from circulation hours later, citing manipulation concerns.

After a day of more amateur sleuthing, Kate admitted that she had edited the photograph, and apologized.

“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,” Kate wrote on X, formerly Twitter, the next day.

She was later photographed alongside her husband in a car departing Windsor Castle.

Why is there an investigation involving the hospital?

The UK’s data watchdog said earlier this week that it is “assessing” reports that a staff member at the London Clinic allegedly tried to access Kate’s private medical records.

The Daily Mirror tabloid reported that the hospital had launched a probe into the allegations that the princess’s confidentiality had been breached.

In a statement, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which is the UK’s independent data regulator, confirmed it had “received a breach report and are assessing the information provided.”

The London Clinic said on Wednesday that “all appropriate investigatory, regulatory and disciplinary steps will be taken.”

The alleged incident is not the first time Kate’s medical privacy has been been the subject of concern. While the princess was pregnant with her first child in 2012, an Australian radio station prank-called the hospital where she was receiving care, and tricked a nurse into revealing private medical information, which was then broadcast.

CNN’s Max Foster, Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Niamh Kennedy contributed reporting.

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