Mathew Knowles encourages men to get tested for breast cancer after beating the disease himself.
The 68-year-old father of Grammy Award-winning superstars Beyoncé and Solange Knowles opened up about his own battle, saying he suspected something was wrong after noticing a ‘recurring little dot of blood’ on his shirt.
A mammogram and biopsy confirmed Knowles had breast cancer, the same disease he says claimed the lives of his mother, aunt and great-aunt.
“I was in disbelief,” Knowles said in an interview with People magazine.
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer in humans is rare. In 2015, about 1% of new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in men.
Knowles said he was lucky he caught his cancer early, when it was in stage 1A. He had a mastectomy, a procedure to remove breast tissue, but did not need chemotherapy.
While performing tests of her surgery, doctors found that Knowles had the BRCA2 gene mutation, which increases the risk of breast cancer in men and women, in addition to other types of cancer.
“All those years of working in diagnostic imaging, I had never heard the word BRCA before,” said Knowles, who sold medical equipment before turning to music. “If I had known about the BRCA gene, I would have had a double mastectomy.”
Knowles uses his testimony to raise awareness about breast cancer in men, which he has dubbed “breast cancer.” It also promotes genetic testing to screen for the BRCA2 gene mutation.
“A lot needs to change in educating men about breast cancer,” he told People. “I want to save lives, especially in the black community.”
The American Cancer Society says, “Black men with breast cancer tend to have a worse prognosis,” like black women.
The health organization predicts that 2,620 new cases of invasive breast cancer in humans will be diagnosed this year, resulting in more than 500 deaths.
“If you’re ahead of the curve, your result will be great most of the time,” Knowles said. “I am a living example.”