Princess Kate cancer diagnosis: What is preventative chemotherapy?

By 1news.co.nz and is republished with permission

“Preventative chemotherapy…,” Princess Kate says, about 40 seconds into her public statement about the treatment her medical advisors have recommended. Her voice momentarily catches in her throat.

But what is preventative chemotherapy?

Doctors say the term can refer to a wide variety of medical terms.

After two months of speculation, the Princess of Wales has issued a statement, saying she is receiving preventative chemotherapy.

“In January, I underwent major abdominal surgery in London, and at the time, it was thought that my condition was non-cancerous,” she said in the video.

“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.”

Details of the cancer have not been disclosed, but Kensington Palace said it was confident the princess would make a full recovery.

‘Adjuvant’ chemotheraphy

Associate professor in oncology Dr Shivan Sivakumar from the University of Birmingham presumed the princess was referring to what the medical profession called “adjuvant chemotherapy.”

“This is chemotherapy after an operation to prevent recurrence after an operation. This is to attempt to destroy any circulating cancer cells.”

Sivakumar said there was something of an epidemic of people under 50 getting abdominal cancers with an unknown cause.

Princess of Wale’s message of support to other cancer sufferers acknowledges the widespread uncertainty and fear that accompanies the disease.

Regimes tended to last between three and six months, and could cause “varied” side effects such as tiredness, nausea, increased infection risk, and loss of appetite.

The value of adjuvant chemotherapy varied between cancer types, and even the size and position of the same cancer type, said professor of paediatric oncology Bob Phillips.

“Generally speaking, the healthier someone is before cancer treatment, the closer-to-optimal the amount of chemo and the gaps-between-chemo can be.”

Chemotherapy is a word used to describe a huge variety of medicines that were used to destroy cancer cells.

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