Why cancer is an entirely individual disease – and which factors will influence King’s treatment

UK

Given most of us prefer to keep our health matters private, it’s absolutely no surprise Buckingham Palace have decided not to reveal more details about the King’s cancer diagnosis, other than to say it’s not prostate cancer.

There will be speculation of course: about the type of cancer; what treatment might entail; what the prognosis is.

Speculation is always a pointless – but particularly so when it comes to cancer.

It’s an entirely individual disease, based on the genetics of the patient involved, the highly variable characteristics of the cancer itself and how widespread it might be in the body.

Treatment options are influenced by all of those factors.

Follow live: Prince Harry to travel to UK to see King

For that reason, even if we were to know what kind of cancer the King has, we’d still be deep in the realms of speculation when it comes to what the impact on his life might be.

More on Cancer

But the fact this cancer was spotted as a result of an unrelated procedure means the King and his doctors were fortunate.

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King diagnosed with cancer

For nearly all types of cancer, the earlier it’s detected, the greater the chance treatment is successful.

The palace’s decision to go public with the diagnosis is likely to have been influenced by recent events.

The public announcement about the King’s treatment for an enlarged prostate – a very common, but often not talked about, condition in men as they get older – led to a huge spike in people seeking out information on the condition.

Read more:
Buckingham Palace statement in full
Prince Harry to travel to UK to see King ‘in coming days’

PM wishes King ‘full and speedy recovery’ after cancer diagnosis

Image:
Pic: PA

If we see a similar reaction to this latest announcement, and people are encouraged to put concern to one side and see a doctor about a change in their health that could be due to cancer, it could help undiagnosed cancers get diagnosed earlier.

Let’s not forget cancer is very common – around 1000 cases are diagnosed in the UK every day – but survival rates for many types are improving all the time. Overall, cancer survival rates have doubled in the last 50 years.

That of course, can, and should, make it easier to talk about cancer.

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