The Royal Wee

Feb 8, 2024

The recent disclosure of King Charles’ cancer diagnosis has touched off a frenzy of media speculation about what kind of cancer it is, his prognosis, whether William, The Prince of Wales, would step up as the heir to the throne should Charles need to abdicate, and what treatment Charles will—or has already—received. This revelation comes on the heels of Charles’ hospitalization for a medical intervention, transurethral resection of the prostate or TURP, to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This term, BPH, refers to the enlargement or hyperplasia of prostate tissue, which compresses the urethra and prevents the flow of urine out of the bladder, as shown below.

TURP is the “gold standard” surgical procedure to remove the enlarged prostate and to relieve the ‘royally’ (pun intended) bothersome—and embarrassing— symptoms of BPH.  These include frequent urination, a weak urine stream with straining to pee, dribbling, nocturia or the need to urinate throughout the night, and the sensation that the bladder is not completely empty after urination; hence, the title for this post, “The Royal Wee.”

While incidental detection of prostate cancer (PCa) sometimes occurs during TURP, Buckingham Palace officials have clarified that his is not a case of PCa.

So, what kind of cancer is it then? Perhaps bladder, or rectal cancer since the bladder and the rectum are in the vicinity of the prostate?

The Palace has remained mum except to say that that the cancer was caught early, and Charles has stepped away from public engagement to start immediate treatment.

Hopefully, that augurs well for his prognosis, but, of course, we don’t know.

All we know for sure is that the Emperor of All Maladies, cancer, always imposes a heavy tribute, even from one so eminent and respected as a King.

We wish Charles a speedy recovery and future good health.