In an effort to raise awareness about male breast cancer and the importance of early detection, Beyonce's dad Matthew Knowles revealed his breast cancer diagnosis Wednesday in an interview on ABC's Good Morning America. The 67-year-old said he was diagnosed with stage IA breast cancer in July and has since learned that he has a mutated BRCA2 gene, thereby increasing his risk of developing cancer.
"I also am a survivor of breast cancer," Knowles told Strahan in an interview that aired Wednesday. "I got a mammogram and it was very clear I had breast cancer."
Knowles said he was driven to get tested after repeatedly noticing a dot of blood on his shirts and bed linen. Along with the development of a painless lump or thickening in the breast tissue, the Mayo Clinic has noted that the signs and symptoms of male breast cancer include discharge from the nipple.
"The first calls I made were to my kids, and my former wife, Tina," Knowles wrote in a first-person account published by Good Morning America. Knowles underwent surgery to remove the cancerous breast in July and has plans to get the other removed as well to decrease his risk of reoccurrence.
"I am going to get the second breast removed in January, because I want to do anything I can to reduce the risk," he wrote. "We use the words 'cancer-free,' but medically there's no such thing as 'cancer-free.' There's always a risk. My risk of a recurrence of breast cancer is less than 5 percent, and the removal of the other breast reduces it down to about 2 percent."
Since he tested positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation, Knowles told Good Morning America he had an increased cancer risk and would have to watch his health carefully. "I have four things to be concerned about: prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, melanoma and breast cancer," he told Strahan. "The rest of my life I have to be very much aware and conscious and do all of the early detection — constant mammograms, constant prostate exams, constant MRIs."
As genes are inherited, according to the breast cancer awareness nonprofit organization Susan G. Komen, Knowles' possession of the BRCA2 gene mutation meant there was a 50 percent chance his daughters, singers Solange Knowles and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, could also have the mutation. "This is genetics," Knowles told Good Morning America. "It also means my kids have a higher chance, a higher risk. Even my grandkids have a higher risk."
But Knowles told Strahan that his daughters "handled it like they should" by also getting tested for the mutation. Knowles did not, however, reveal the results of his daughters' tests. According to the National Cancer Institute, genetic testing for BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes is most often done using a blood sample, but sometimes uses saliva or a cheek swab.
Although the National Breast Cancer Foundation reports that male breast cancer is rare with just one in 1,000 men being diagnosed, men are reported to have a higher mortality rate than women. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation this is primarily due to a lack of awareness about breast cancer among men, often leading them to overlook symptoms such as lumps and delay diagnosis and treatment. That lack of awareness is exactly why Knowles is taking his own battle with breast cancer public during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
"We used to think this was only an issue for women, but this is male or female," Knowles wrote in his first-person account. "Men want to keep it hidden, because we feel embarrassed — and there's no reason for that."
Ultimately, Knowles is hoping his story encourages more male breast cancer survivors to come forward and helps make space for men in the breast cancer conversation. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month and beyond.