King Charles III's Health Issues Explained

Kelly Corbett - Author

Feb. 5 2024, Updated 1:59 p.m. ET

King Charles II
Source: Getty Images

Following the late Queen Elizabeth II's death on Sept. 8, 2022, her son Charles III — who was 73 at the time — took on a the title of king. Starting such a massive role at that age sounds like a handful, but Charles was up for the challenge.

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However, his health has been of concern. For some time, people on social media noticed and commented on his swollen fingers. Then, in January 2024, it was reported that the king was going to the hospital for prostate treatment. The following month, Buckingham Palace revealed that the king had been diagnosed with cancer.

Here's what to know about what's going on with the head of the British royal family.

King Charles III and Camilla  in June 2022
Source: Getty Images

King Charles III and his wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, in June 2022

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King Charles's health issues have been of concern.

On Jan. 18, 2024, it was reported that the king would be undergoing a "corrective procedure" for an enlarged prostate. The condition was described as benign, and Buckingham Palace assured that while the king would be absent from some upcoming duties, his treatment was "in common with thousands of men each year." A royals source told CNN that the king hoped this news would encourage other men to also get their prostates checked.

But on Feb. 5, 2024, Buckingham Palace revealed that amid the king's procedure, doctors discovered that he had cancer. The palace indicated that it was not prostate cancer but did not divulge which form of cancer he was diagnosed with.

The palace also said that the king had begun "regular treatments" and remained "wholly positive" while "[looking] forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible."

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King Charles previously made headlines over his swollen fingers.

In one photo making the rounds in 2022, the king's hands appear to be abnormally large. In fact, all of his fingers look to be swollen.

It's a condition that Charles III has seemingly had for some time, but he has never publicly addressed it except for in 2012 when the Mirror reported that he referred to his fingers as "sausage fingers."

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Also, per the outlet, Queen Elizabeth II allegedly wrote in a letter in 1948, where she mentioned that Charles, a newborn at the time, had an "interesting pair of hands for a baby."

That said, it's unknown if he has dealt with these large hands his whole life or if they can be attributed to a medical condition.

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Talking to the Daily Star in 2022, Dr. Gareth Nye, a senior lecturer at the University of Chester, explained that there wasn't one set diagnosis to describe the king's swollen fingers. However, he notes that the swelling could be a result of edema or arthritis.

Edema, as he explains, "is a condition where the body starts to retain fluids in the limbs, normally the legs and ankles but also in the fingers which causes them to swell." Most folks who develop edema are over the age of 65.

Meanwhile, arthritis is the inflammation or swelling of one or more joints, per the CDC. It's a possibility that Charles may have developed arthritis in his hands.

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