Catherine, Princess of Wales, announces cancer diagnosis

photo of catherine, princess of wales smiling at event wearing a white suit and silver earrings
Catherine, Princess of Wales, seen here at one of her last public appearances in December 2023, has just announced that she's starting treatment for cancer. (Image credit: CHRIS JACKSON / Contributor via Getty Images)

Catherine, Princess of Wales, has announced that she's undergoing treatment for cancer in a prerecorded video released Friday (March 22).

"In January, I underwent major abdominal surgery in London, and at the time, it was thought that my condition was non-cancerous," Kate, age 42, said in the video. While the initial surgery was successful, "tests after the operation found cancer had been present." 

The princess' medical team then advised that she undergo preventive chemotherapy, which is often used to stop cancer from returning after a surgery to remove the main tumor, for instance, or to reduce the likelihood of developing cancer in the first place. She said she's now in the early stages of that treatment but did not specify the type of cancer detected.

"This of course came as a huge shock," she said. "It has taken me time to recover from major surgery in order to start my treatment," and it's also taken the princess and Prince William time to explain the situation to and reassure their children, George, Charlotte and Louis, she added.

Related: Does it matter what time of day you get cancer treatment?

Kate's announcement closely follows that of King Charles III, who disclosed his own cancer diagnosis to the public in February, The New York Times reported. Like the princess, he did not disclose the type of cancer; however, it is known his cancer came to light following a procedure to treat an enlarged prostate. Palace officials have said it's not prostate cancer, though. 

Kate has not attended any official events since Christmas and she's faced a firestorm of speculation about her health after the news of her abdominal surgery in January. In her video message, Kate emphasized that her family will now need "time, space and privacy" while she completes treatment. 

She added that she's been thinking of all those whose lives have been impacted by cancer. "For everyone facing this disease, in whatever form, please do not lose faith or hope. You are not alone."

Kensington Palace said the princess' video message was filmed by BBC Studios in Windsor on Wednesday (March 20), according to CBS News. BBC News noted that the outlet was briefed on the afternoon of March 22 by Kensington Palace, along with other media.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to offer medical advice.

Nicoletta Lanese
Channel Editor, Health

Nicoletta Lanese is the health channel editor at Live Science and was previously a news editor and staff writer at the site. She holds a graduate certificate in science communication from UC Santa Cruz and degrees in neuroscience and dance from the University of Florida. Her work has appeared in The Scientist, Science News, the Mercury News, Mongabay and Stanford Medicine Magazine, among other outlets. Based in NYC, she also remains heavily involved in dance and performs in local choreographers' work.