Kate Middleton makes 1st public appearance in 6 months at Trooping the Colour amid cancer treatments: What to know about GI cancers, including signs & symptoms

The Princess of Wales has made her first public appearance since she was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of the year.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.

Kate Middleton smiles as she travels by carriage during Trooping the Colour at Buckingham Palace on June 15 in London. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Kate Middleton has made her first public appearance in six months, and shared in a health update that she's "not out of the woods yet" in her cancer battle. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Kate Middleton had made a triumphant return to public life with her appearance at Trooping the Colour on Saturday in London. Celebrating the King's birthday, it's the first time the Princess of Wales has been seen in public for six months.

Back in January, the 42-year-old royal was diagnosed with a form of cancer after a "major abdominal surgery." While the specific form of cancer still hasn't been disclosed, Middleton is currently undergoing preventative chemotherapy.

But at Trooping the Colour, the princess looked in good spirits despite her major health battle. As soon as she emerged from the car at Buckingham Palace, Middleton was reportedly full of smiles and waves. Stepping onto the balcony, Middleton was greeted with cheers and whistles from the crowd, and her happy energy continued. On top of whispering something into King Charles's ear to make the monarch laugh, she also couldn't contain her own giggles seeing Prince Louis dance along to some music.

On Friday, Middleton shared a health update, indicating she was looking forward to the birthday parade this weekend and hopes to join other public engagements this summer. Still, she noted she's "not out of the woods yet," according to a social media post.

"I have been blown away by all the kind messages of support and encouragement over the last couple of months. It really has made the world of difference to William and me and has helped us both through some of the harder times," she noted in the post. "I am making good progress, but as anyone going through chemotherapy will know, there are good days and bad days."

She added on those bad days, she typically feel weak and tired, and she usually must "give in" to letting her body rest. But on days that are good, she feels stronger and aims to make the most of her strong energy. Still, she noted her treatment will continue for a few more months.

"I am learning how to be patient, especially with uncertainty. Taking each day as it comes, listening to my body, and allowing myself to take this much needed time to heal," she concluded. "Thank you so much for your continued understanding, and to all of you who have so bravely shared your stories with me."

While the princess's official diagnosis has yet to be shared with the public, it's no doubt that health awareness is priority for many Canadians. So, understanding these cancers is crucial for early detection and effective treatment. Yahoo Canada looked into the various types of gastrointestinal (GI) cancers, their risk factors and early signs with Dr. Eric Chen, a medical oncologist at Toronto's Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

Gastrointestinal cancers refer to malignancies affecting the digestive system. Chen previously explained "there are many different kinds of GI cancers because the GI tract stretches from the esophagus to the rectum."

This includes cancers of the esophagus, gallbladder, liver, pancreas, stomach, small intestine, bowel (large intestine or colon and rectum) and anus. Chen highlighted these cancers, particularly colorectal cancer, have become more common in younger people, and they are among the most common and deadly in the country.

Woman having painful stomachache. Persistence of various GI symptoms can  be a key indicator that you should seek medical attention, regardless of cancer risk. (Getty Images)
Persistence of various GI symptoms can be a key indicator that you should seek medical attention, regardless of cancer risk. (Getty Images)

Chen pointed out "most early cancers do not cause any symptoms," noting the value of screening programs. He added it's difficult to generalize symptoms, but some signs of gastrointestinal cancers that may overlap include:

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort

  • Changes in bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation)

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Changes in hunger cues

  • Fatigue or weakness

However, these symptoms are not specific to GI cancers alone and can be associated with a range of other health conditions, Chen confirmed. However, their persistence can be a key indicator that you should seek medical attention.

While these symptoms can indicate any issue with the digestive system and can be vague, each type of GI cancer has unique risk factors and some have specific early signs.

Gastrointestinal cancers include a range of malignancies affecting the digestive system's organs and each type has distinct characteristics, risks and implications for health.

Chen reiterated that common risk factors include smoking and alcohol consumption, while family history plays a crucial role in assessing individual risk levels. The Canadian Cancer Society added that diet, physical activity and regular screening can significantly impact the risk and detection of these cancers.

The five most common GI cancers, according to Yale Medicine, include the following:

close up of female doctor hand wear white coat holds blue ribbon in front of her chest with colon model on table
Cases of colorectal cancer in young people have been rising in Canada. (Getty Images)

The second most common cancer in Canadian women and third in men, colorectal cancer is highly detectable through screening processes like colonoscopies. The Canadian Cancer Society outlined risk factors such as age, family history of colorectal cancer, diet high in red and processed meats, physical inactivity, obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption.

This cancer forms in the esophagus, presenting initial symptoms like difficulty swallowing and weight loss. The Mayo Clinic shared the two main types: adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, each with different risk factors and prevalence rates. Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and chronic acid reflux as significant risk factors for esophageal cancer.

Stomach cancer often goes undetected in early stages due to non-specific symptoms. The Canadian Cancer Society highlighted the importance of recognizing subtle signs like indigestion and stomach discomfort, which can be early indicators. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, risk factors include a diet high in salty and smoked foods, smoking and stomach bacterium.

Pancreas cancer, illustration.Symptoms of pancreatic cancer are often vague. (Getty Images)
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer are often vague. (Getty Images)

Known for its aggressive nature, pancreatic cancer's risk factors include smoking, obesity, and a family history of the disease, as detailed by Cancer Care Ontario. Symptoms are often vague, including jaundice and abdominal pain, which complicates early detection.

Cancer Care Ontario highlighted smoking, obesity and a history of pancreatitis as key risk factors for pancreatic cancer.

Primary liver cancer is closely associated with liver diseases like hepatitis and cirrhosis. According to the American Cancer Society, symptoms can include weight loss, upper abdominal pain and jaundice.

The American Cancer Society noted that chronic infection with hepatitis B or C and cirrhosis are major risk factors for liver cancer.

Diagnosing abdominal or GI cancers can include bloodwork, imaging or CT scans and endoscope. (Getty Images) asian male doctor wearing protective gown is doing colonoscopy for elderly man and finding cytopathic effect or tumor
Diagnosing abdominal or GI cancers can include bloodwork, imaging or CT scans and endoscope. (Getty Images)

The Canadian Cancer Society's guidelines suggest individuals between ages 50 and 74 undergo regular colorectal cancer screenings — a key practice in early detection and prevention. Chen added "we encourage patients over the age of 50 to have at least a FIT test." FIT tests, or fecal immunochemical tests, detect blood in your stool (poop) — which could indicate pre-cancer.

Explaining the diagnostic process, Chen said "the diagnosis of GI cancer ... can be through screening and/or when patients develop symptoms." He elaborated that diagnosis may involve "bloodwork, some kind of imaging, or CT scan and endoscope."

Chen advised, "If you have any symptoms that you are worried about ... the first thing to do is reach out to your family physician."

The integration of lifestyle modifications, such as maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in regular physical activity, is recommended to reduce the risk of GI cancers.

For more information on GI cancers, including detailed guides on symptoms, risk factors, and prevention strategies, visit reputable sources like the Canadian Cancer Society and Cancer Care Ontario.

Let us know what you think by commenting below and tweeting @YahooStyleCA! Follow us on Twitter and Instagram.