How Can The Gene Mutation That Caused Mathew Knowles’ Breast Cancer Impact His Kids And Grandchildren? A Doctor Explains.

October 4, 2019  |  

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When Mathew Knowles found out that he had breast cancer, he was told that it was because he had an inherited mutation in his BRCA2 gene.

“What that means for all men with a BRCA2 mutation, I have a higher risk of prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, melanoma and breast cancer,” he said earlier this week while speaking with TMZ Live during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. “I certainly have inherited [it] from somewhere, where my family, and Beyoncé and Solange obviously, have a higher risk. It doesn’t say you will have breast cancer or ovarian cancer, it just says you will have a higher risk.”

Looking back into his family tree, the 67-year-old noted that many people in his family and even in his new wife’s family, have had breast cancer. His grandmother’s sister died of breast cancer, his aunt passed of breast cancer, and his aunt’s only two daughters (his cousins) died of breast cancer.

With the prevalence of this invasive disease in his family in mind, we reached out to a doctor and breast cancer awareness advocate to get more information on how Mathew’s inherited BRCA2 gene mutation could possibly impact his daughters and grandchildren. Thankfully, Beyoncé and Solange got tested and were negative for the gene mutation. Still, we spoke to Janna Andrews, MD, assistant clinical professor of radiation oncology at North Shore LIJ Hofstra University and founder of Kicked It In Heels, which supports breast cancer survivors, about what all of us should know about how the hereditary BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations can impact families, including Mathew’s other kids.

“The BRCA2 gene is a tumor suppressor gene that helps repair DNA damage. If the gene is mutated then DNA damage is not repaired properly and can lead to the development of cancer,” she said. “The BRCA2 gene mutation is associated with an increased risk for prostate for men, ovarian cancer for women and pancreatic cancer and melanoma for both.”

Dr. Andrews says it’s good that Mathew was tested, and that it’s important that both of his famous daughters went to be tested for the gene as well. He does have two other young children though, a son named Nixon and a daughter named Koi. When they are adults (around 25), it’s recommend that they too get tested for the gene. Even if everyone does test negative for the gene mutation, doctors may still recommend that they start getting tested years earlier than they normally would for breast cancer since it’s common on the paternal side of their family. If the youngest kids were to test positive, there is a 50 percent chance of passing the mutation on to their own children down the line.

“They can sit down and meet with a genetic counselor to really go over the family tree in terms of who else in the family may have had cancer and even look into more in-depth genetic testing looking for other genes that could be affected as well.”

As for Mathew, he’s already taken the proper steps to deal with his diagnosis, including getting a mastectomy on the breast where the cancer was found, and confirming plans to have the other breast removed early next year. He’s also helped other men by warning them of the importance of looking out for their own breast health, as well as possible genetic mutations that could affect it.

While breast cancer in men is one percent of all cases, as Mathew’s situation has shown as well as that of other well-known individuals like actor Richard Roundtree and TV personality Montel Williams, any man can be touched by it. Not only that, but the outlook can also be worse for our men if breast cancer isn’t detected early.

“In 2019 there will be roughly 2600 cases of male breast cancer and 500 deaths from male breast cancer. But like Black women, breast cancer in Black males can have a worse prognosis compared to Caucasian men,” she said. “I believe the danger of male breast cancer is that most men just don’t know that they can get it. One thing to keep in mind is that everyone is born with a small amount of breast tissue. Just like any other cancer, the treatment is much more successful the earlier you catch the disease. Any persistent breast lump, changes to the skin or nipple discharge all warrant making an appointment to see your doctor.”

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