How King Charles’ Cancer Treatment Is Unique

By: Alec Donaldson | Published: Feb 15, 2024

At the start of February, Buckingham Palace released a statement confirming the British monarch, King Charles III, was diagnosed with cancer. 

Charles’ treatment will be unique. Instead of being treated by the NHS, like most of the nation, the king will be cared for by Britain’s best specialists from some of London’s finest private hospitals. 

Buckingham Palace Reval Charles Has Cancer

At the beginning of February, Buckingham Palace released a statement confirming King Charles had been diagnosed with cancer. 

King Charles smiles and waves to the media during an event in Wadebridge, United Kingdom

Source: Tim Rooke/Getty Images

While few details were released, reports suggest the disease was discovered during the king’s recent procedure related to his enlarged prostate

Treatment Began Immediately

Just a few short days after his diagnosis, Charles had begun “regular treatments,” according to the palace. 

A man pictured as he receives treatment from a doctor in a hospital

Source: Freepik

As the monarch of Britain, it’s expected that King Charles will be treated by the best specialists the private sector can offer (many of whom earn over £600,000 annually, per Express).

Charles Treated in Private Facilities

Roger Kirby, a prostate surgeon with over four decades of experience, shed light on Charles’s treatment during a written piece for The Daily Mail.

A photograph inside a private hospital as a patient speaks with several nurses

Source: Freepik

Kirby acknowledges that while Britain’s free health care service, the NHS, is well equipped, the private facilities where Charles will be treated are the best money can buy. 

Money Talks When It Comes to Cancer

Cancer patients in Britain often wait for over two months before treatment begins. However, for the 1% like Charles who can afford the exorbitant fees at London’s private hospitals, it can begin immediately. 

The entrance to a private hospital is photographed showing its decor and seating area

Source: Freepik

Unfortunately, statistics say that for every month without treatment, the risk of death increases by around 10%. NHS patients typically wait 62 days on average to begin treatment. 

Drugs Too Expensive for NHS

Another aspect of Charles’ treatment will see him receive the best cancer drugs on the market, some of which are so expensive that the NHS cannot afford to issue them to British patients. 

A person is pictured holding several pills in one hand and a glass of water in the other

Source: Freepik

One such drug is the immunotherapy drug ipilimumab, which can cost up to £15,000 per vial, according to the medical director of the Sarah Cannon Research Institute UK, Hendrik-Tobias Arkenau (via The Daily Mail).


Eventual Role of Living-Saving Drugs

Ipilimumab is seldom offered to patients on the NHS, and many suffering from bowel cancer could greatly benefit from the drug, according to Arkenau. 

A doctor dressed in a long white coat is pictured giving a patient a blue pill

Source: Freepik

“It’s likely that drugs like this will eventually be offered to NHS bowel patients, but there are often delays to rolling them out because the NHS has to negotiate to bring these costs down,” she told The Daily Mail


The King Need Not Worry

For someone in King Charles’ position, no expense will be spared regarding lifesaving drugs.

King Charles is pictured in a pin-striped navy suit during a reception at Buckingham Palace

Source: Victoria Jones/Getty Images

The king will have the latest medicines and specialists required to administer the drug come to him, ensuring he increases his chance of entering remission. 


Five-Star Luxury

While no news of Charles’ treatment plan has been released thus far, if the king should spend time in a hospital, Kirby says it’ll better resemble a five-star hotel as opposed to an NHS facility.

Photograph of the exterior of the Cleveland Clinic, a private hospital situated in London

Source: Philafrenzy/Wikipedia

Private hospitals in London, such as the Cleveland Clinic, spent over $2 billion on construction. At the King Edwards VII hospital, experienced chefs feed patients with fresh meals throughout the day. 


Advanced Technology of Modern Hospitals

Charles’ cancer was caught early, according to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (via The Guardian). Undoubtedly, his private clinics and their technology played a role in the rapid diagnosis. 

A doctor is pictured using a tablet to check on a patient's test results inside a modern hospital

Source: Freepik

Modernized hospitals are equipped with state-of-the-art technology and machines worth millions of dollars, which is typically why diagnosis can be made so quickly. 


3-Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging

One particular piece of equipment found in the best clinics across Britain and the wider world is the 3-Tesla magnetic resonance imaging machine. 

A female doctor is pictured as he sends a patient through an MRI machine

Source: Freepik

According to Kirby, this multimillion dollar machine “provides much clearer and more detailed images than standard MRI, allowing doctors to make a more accurate diagnosis of disease such as prostate cancer.”


The King Will Be Well Looked After

It’s safe to say that thanks to a blank check produced by the royal family, Charles will have the best treatment money can buy. 

King Charles III pictured during a visit to Aberdeen Town House in Scotland

Source: Jane Barlow/Getty Images

The king will be well looked after throughout this treatment and has the fiscal availability to explore all avenues to ensure he enters into remission as soon as possible.