Catherine, Princess of Wales, revealed Friday that she has been diagnosed with cancer, a surprise disclosure that follows an extended period of frenzied public speculation on the state of her health.

In a video statement, Catherine, 42, shared that her cancer had been discovered following a “major abdominal surgery” she underwent in January.

She said that the surgery was successful and, at the time, her condition was thought to be “non-cancerous.” Tests done after the surgery, however, revealed that “cancer had been present,” she said, so her medical team recommended she undergo a preventative course of chemotherapy.

She said she was now in the “early stages” of that treatment. She did not specify what type of cancer she is facing.

Dr. Shivan Sivakumar, an 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.”

2 senior royals facing cancer

News of Catherine’s cancer diagnosis came only weeks after it was revealed that her father-in-law, King Charles, is also dealing with a cancer diagnosis of his own. Charles was also treated for an enlarged prostate — a procedure that was undertaken at the same private hospital in London where his daughter-in-law was being looked after.

The 75-year-old King has suspended his public duties while undergoing treatment. He has not revealed the type of cancer.

WATCH | Catherine’s statement on her cancer diagnosis: 

Princess of Wales says she’s receiving cancer treatment

Catherine, the Princess of Wales, says in a video released to her social media pages that tests after her surgery revealed ‘cancer had been present,’ and that she is in the early stages of preventive chemotherapy.

King Charles praised his daughter-in-law’s “courage in speaking as she did,” according to a Friday statement from Buckingham Palace. He and Queen Camilla, 76, “will continue to offer their love and support to the whole family through this difficult time,” the statement said.

The princess said the news of her own cancer had been “a huge shock” for herself and her family.

Kensington Palace said the update on her health was shared at a time when Catherine and William’s children were on break from school, to shield them from related news coverage.

Catherine married Prince William in 2011, after meeting him at university a decade earlier. The couple have three children — George, 10, Charlotte, 8, and five-year-old Louis.

The 41-year-old William is the heir to the throne, and his children follow him in the formal line of succession. Prince Harry, the only brother of the Prince of Wales, is fifth in this same line.

Harry, 39, and his wife, Meghan Markle, who together moved to California in 2020, wished the princess well.

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

On Friday, Catherine’s brother, James Middleton, shared a childhood photo on Instagram, showing the two siblings.

“Over the years, we have climbed many mountains together,” he wrote in an accompanying caption. “As a family, we will climb this one with you too.”

Stress amid ‘lurid speculation’

Speculation about Catherine’s health reached a fever pitch in recent weeks. Friday’s disclosure provides more context on the challenges she has been facing.

WATCH | London reacts to Catherine’s news: 

Londoners react to ‘incredibly sad’ cancer announcement from the Princess of Wales

Catherine, the Princess of Wales, announced she is receiving treatment for cancer, in a video released Friday following a prolonged absence from the public eye.

Earlier this week, a British privacy watchdog said it was looking into a report that Catherine’s medical records had been inappropriately accessed at the time of her surgery in January.

Britain’s prime minister, Rishi Sunak, referenced the health-related scrutiny the princess had faced, when commenting on the very personal news that Catherine had divulged.

“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,” Sunak said Friday in a post shared on X

Labour Leader Keir Starmer sounded a similar note while offering his own well wishes for the princess in her recovery.

“Any cancer diagnosis is shocking,” Starmer said Friday on X. “But I can only imagine the added stress of receiving that news amid the lurid speculation we’ve seen in recent weeks.”

Two weekends ago, Kensington Palace released a photo of Catherine, which created a controversy of its own when news agencies recalled its use after identifying concerns about edits that had been made to it.

WATCH | The rising early onset cancer rate: 

Catherine’s cancer diagnosis at 42 and rising rate in younger people

Princess Catherine’s cancer diagnosis at the age of 42 is highlighting the rising rates of certain types of early onset cancer among younger people.

Catherine later apologized, via a statement, for any confusion the image had caused.

Erin Hill, the senior royal editor for People magazine, says she thinks the decision to release Friday’s video statement was informed by all of the recent events surrounding Catherine.

“I think she’s decided she wanted to address this head on with no speculation about how she’s doing, just her to camera, seeing her there in the flesh, making this very personal announcement,” she told Reuters.

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