The Princess of Wales’s cancer diagnosis: Everything we know so far

Princess of Wales
The Princess of Wales received support from across the world after her video message

The Princess of Wales has made her first public appearance since announcing her cancer diagnosis in March.

The Princess began her return to public life on Saturday, attending Trooping the Colour alongside the Prince of Wales and their children.

How is the Princess of Wales?

She is still undergoing chemotherapy and said in an update on her condition that she is making  “good progress” with her treatment.

In a personal statement, she said she was “not out of the woods yet”, and that her course of preventative treatment would continue.

The Princess added she was having “good days and bad days”, and was learning to be “patient” in allowing herself time to heal.

She thanked the public for their support, saying she had been “blown away” and that it had made the “world of difference” to her and the Prince of Wales.

What do we know about the Princess of Wales’s cancer diagnosis?

In a personal video message in March, the Princess, 42, announced that she was being treated for a form of cancer identified during tests after her major abdominal surgery on Jan 16 2024.

She said that initially, when she underwent the surgery in London, it was thought that her condition was non-cancerous and the operation was “successful”.

However, she explained that “tests after the operation found cancer had been present,” adding: “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.”

The Princess said that she was “going to be OK” and was focused on making a “full recovery” as she revealed that she began preventative chemotherapy in late February 2024.

Beyond this, Kensington Palace has cited her right to medical privacy when choosing not to disclose what type of cancer it is or at what stage it was found.

Asked for further details about the condition or operation, a spokesman said: “We will not be sharing any further private medical information. The Princess has a right to medical privacy, as we all do.”

What type of surgery did Catherine have?

The major abdominal surgery that Catherine underwent has not been disclosed.

Aides said when she was admitted that her condition was not cancer-related but did not specify what type of surgery she had, only describing it as abdominal surgery. The Princess would later describe it as “major” surgery.

Kensington Palace initially said she would remain in the private hospital for 10 to 14 days and that she would be away from public view to recover until “after Easter”.

What kind of treatment is the Princess now undertaking and what does it mean?

The Princess is undertaking preventative chemotherapy, also known formally as adjuvant chemotherapy, and is said to be on “a recovery pathway”.

Explaining preventative chemotherapy, separate to the Princess’s individual case, Prof Andrew Beggs, MRC, senior clinical fellow at the University of Birmingham, said: “Preventative chemotherapy after surgery is given to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back in the future – a bit like mopping a floor with bleach when you’ve spilt something on it, chemotherapy kills any spilt cells.”

This is done because sometimes cancer cells spread from the mass and linger in the blood. To make sure these do not spread, health professionals will give patients preventative chemotherapy. Because chemotherapy is a cancer drug that’s systemic, it goes all around the body to mop up any remaining cancer cells.

Is there a timeframe for her treatment?

The Princess did not reveal when she was told of the cancer diagnosis. However, aides revealed that she had embarked on her course of preventative chemotherapy at the end of February.

The Princess said she first had to allow her body to recover from the surgery. When she delivered her statement, on March 22, she said she was in the “early stages” of that treatment.

The Princess said on Friday that she is still undergoing treatment, and that she has “good days and bad days”. She said her chemotherapy will be ongoing for a few more months.

She said: “On those bad days you feel weak, tired and you have to give in to your body resting. But on the good days, when you feel stronger, you want to make the most of feeling well.

Why did the palace wait so long to reveal that she had cancer?

The Princess timed her announcement deliberately to protect the welfare of her three young children as she wanted to give them time to process the news away from public discourse.

A spokesman for Kensington Palace said that she had wanted to share the information with the public “when she and the Prince felt it was right for them as a family”.

While Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis have known privately for some time, supported by their parents, the Princess chose to release the video at the start of their Easter school holidays so they could retreat safely from the public eye.

What has the reaction been?

There has been an outpouring of worldwide support and love for the Princess, with many commending her for her bravery and strength in making the kind of candid and personal announcement that she did.

A spokesman for the King, who is also undergoing treatment for cancer, said he has “remained in the closest contact with his beloved daughter-in-law throughout the past weeks”.

They added that the King and Queen Camilla “will continue to offer their love and support to the whole family through this difficult time”.

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

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, said: “As someone who has faced their own battles with cancer in recent months, I am full of admiration for the way she has spoken publicly about her diagnosis and know it will do a tremendous amount of good to raise awareness.”

World leaders also sent their support, while many also upbraided the people who have been propagating conspiracy theories about her condition and whereabouts online in recent months.

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, was among the first to do so, saying: “She has shown tremendous bravery with her statement. In recent weeks, she has been subjected to intense scrutiny and has been unfairly treated by certain sections of the media around the world and on social media.

“When it comes to matters of health, like everyone else she must be afforded the privacy to focus on her treatment and be with her loving family.”

Why is there an investigation into the hospital where she was treated?

The hospital that treated the Princess is being investigated over possible delays in notifying the privacy watchdog of an alleged attempt to access her medical records.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) requires organisations to notify it of data security breaches within 72 hours of discovery. The London Clinic reportedly did not contact the ICO until more than a week after the Princess was discharged.

Three members of staff are understood to be under investigation for attempting to access her private medical information following her 13-night stay there in January.

The Princess was discharged on Jan 29 Neither the hospital, the ICO or Kensington Palace have released details of when the alleged attempt or attempts to access her medical records happened.

Al Russell, the London Clinic’s chief executive, said there was “no place at our hospital for those who intentionally breach the trust of any of our patients or colleagues”.