Mathew Knowles is a proud survivor of male breast cancer. On Oct. 1, the famous music executive took to Instagram to send a powerful message to those still battling the disease in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Mathew Knowles’ scary breast cancer diagnosis
Mathew Knowles, who is the father of Grammy-award-winning singers Beyoncé and Solange Knowles, discovered he had male breast cancer in July 2019. The Prairie View A&M University professor said he knew something was wrong after he kept seeing spots of blood on his shirt.
“Imagine a piece of white paper and you took a red pen and just put a dot,” Mr. Knowles told The Times during an interview. “That’s what it looked like in my T-shirt.” His wife also noticed blood on their bedsheets. “So, I squeezed my nipple and sure enough, a little discharge came out bloody discharge,” he said. “I immediately called my doctor.”
Mr. Knowles received a blood smear test which doctors used to search for abnormalities, but the test came back inconclusive. Luckily, thanks to early detection from a mammogram, doctors were able to quickly find and successfully treat his stage 1a breast cancer.
“They also took out three lymph nodes” to see if the cancer had spread throughout his body. Thankfully it did not. He later had a mastectomy to remove the tumor from his breast.
He’s a carrier of the BRCA2 gene
Thanks to genetic testing, Mr. Knowles also discovered that he was a carrier of the BRCA2 gene mutation, a harmful variant that can increase a person’s risk for cancer. During the interview, he said he constantly reminds his daughters to get checked for the gene since cancer runs on his side of the family.
“My two daughters have an increased chance of having breast cancer. They have an increased chance of ovarian cancer. And it goes down to grandkids.”
Black men have a higher risk of developing breast cancer
This year an estimated 2,710 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer. According to Cancer.net, Black men have the highest incidence rates of breast cancer and the lowest chance of recovery. Signs and symptoms of male breast cancer can include a painless lump or thickening in the breast tissue, discoloration or scaling around the skin of the breast. Discharge from the nipple can also occur.
In an op-ed for USA TODAY, Mr. Knowles said he often refers to breast cancer as “chest cancer” when talking about the disease in men, because “it’s insensitive to women who go through such a different experience with one of the most personal parts of their bodies.” He also believes the term breast cancer can make men “extremely uncomfortable and even averse to getting treatment.”
“It wasn’t comforting to walk into my first oncology appointment through doors that read “Women’s Breast Clinic” and to be greeted with the question, am I here for my wife?” the star wrote, adding: “Since I’ve shared my diagnosis, countless men have secretly shared their male chest cancer diagnosis with me, as they were too ashamed to talk openly about having “breast cancer.” It’s time to use inclusive terminology that doesn’t embarrass men or prevent them from seeking the care they need.”