Beyonce’s dad Mathew Knowles reveals that he has breast cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and while a lot of dialogue focuses on women, it’s worth remembering that anyone can get breast cancer. Mathew Knowles, Beyonce’s father, spoke with Michael Strahan of Good Morning America and shared that he has been diagnosed with breast cancer. He told Michael that over the summer, he noticed dots of blood on his t-shirt several days in a row and initially chalked it up to a reaction to medication. Because Mathew had a history of breast cancer in his family, he decided to go to the doctor.

Coincidentally, he had worked for the medical division of Xerox, selling Xeroradiography, which was used to detect breast cancer. The entire interview is worth the watch, and GMA’s article includes quotations from two doctors, including Dr. Susan Domchek, director of the MacDonald Women’s Cancer Risk Evaluation Center and executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA at the University of Pennsylvania, whom Mathew spoke with. (I am not clear on whether she’s an ongoing member of his oncology team.) Here’s some of what Mathew told Michael:

Fast forward, I go to my doctor, and I say I’d like to get a mammogram. He suggested I get a mammogram, but first he said, “Let’s get a smear.”

So they got a smear of the blood, and it was nonconclusive. Then we got a mammogram and that’s when we saw that, in fact, there was breast cancer there. At least they thought. The next step is to get an ultrasound and a needle biopsy. That’s when they determined it for sure — I had breast cancer. . . .

I’m still getting test results back. I got an MRI for pancreatic cancer and my pancreas and liver are fine. My dermatologist removed 2 moles — both of which came back benign for melanoma. I got an MRI on my prostate a week ago, but we’re still waiting on the results.

I am going to get the second breast removed in January, because I want to do anything I can to reduce the risk. 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%, and the removal of the other breast reduces it down to about 2%.

Mathew wants to raise awareness of breast cancer in men. GMA also spoke with Dr. John Kiluk, a surgical oncologist who specializes in breast cancer in The Center for Women’s Oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center. (His quotations about breast cancer occurrence in men are interspersed with Mathew’s comments in the interview.) Dr. Kiluk explained that only about 2,000–3,000 cases of breast cancer in men are diagnosed every year, while 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with the disease. Mathew also wants to destigmatize breast cancer in men, saying, “Men want to keep it hidden, because we feel embarrassed — and there’s no reason for that.”. Dr. Kiluk said that men and their doctors may downplay the likely risk of a breast cancer diagnosis, which can lead to the disease being diagnosed only after it’s progressed significantly.

Mathew likewise stressed the importance of early detection:

[K]now your family history. This is not just for cancer, it’s for all diseases — especially in the black community. I want the black community to know that we’re the first to die, and that’s because we don’t go to the doctor, we don’t get the detection and we don’t keep up with technologies and what the industry and the community is doing. So that’s why I’m here.

[From Good Morning America]

Several of the most meaningful experiences of the past several years of my life were participating in breast cancer walks with a friend who is a breast cancer survivor. She’d not had any family history of breast cancer when she was diagnosed, and she’s thankfully doing well today, though she’s had to deal with other resulting health issues.

I’m glad that Mathew is sharing his story to raise awareness of the fact that breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. He said early detection is key, and hopefully his story will encourage more men who are living with breast cancer to speak out and share their stories, too. I also hope that more men watched his interview and use it to have a conversation with their doctors, especially if they have a history of breast cancer in their families. May Mathew’s MRI results be conclusively negative for prostate cancer and may he have a long, happy life ahead of him.

Here’s Mathew’s interview:

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

9 Responses to “Beyonce’s dad Mathew Knowles reveals that he has breast cancer”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Becks1 says:

    Wow, imagine if he didn’t have that history of breast cancer in his family. He may have waited longer to go to the doctor and never even suggested a mammogram. It’s an important topic to talk about during October – that breast cancer can and obviously does affect men as well.

  2. Lightpurple says:

    I wish him well.

  3. Kendra says:

    Maybe if the name of the cancer was chest cancer men would not feel as embarrassed (and some women too maybe) and it would be more known men can get it. Anyway wish him well.

    • ElleBee says:

      I think so too. Perhaps the medical community should consider that but the cancer is in the breast tissue not just the chest. A lot of men will wait until they are on death’s door before they seek medical assistance though even when it isn’t breast cancer.

  4. ElleBee says:

    I’m glad he was able to catch it in time and get treated and be bold enough to openly speak on it. Unfortunately there are still some that are embarrassed about their diagnosis and suffer in silence. I know a lady that tried to pray away her breast cancer (she died).

    Check your breast ladies and gentlemen!

  5. JoJo says:

    It’s ironic that he worked as a sales rep in the medical division for Xerox in the 80’s and later at Phillips selling MRIs/Scans .He worked with radiologists showing them how use the imaging equipment to detect breast cancer.He told Fox 26 News when he saw his mammogram he knew he had cancer.
    He has BRCA 2 gene mutation and he said his daughters have gotten tested.He will have his left breast removed in Jan.His right one and 3 lymph nodes were removed in July.

  6. Ann says:

    This is great information. I talk to cancer patients all day every day and many people don’t know the process for getting a diagnosis. This is a good breakdown of what it takes to get a breast cancer diagnosis. There are lots of steps involved with diagnosing and treating that he touches on. Good for Matthew. This is not an easy thing to discuss but the information he has given is really so helpful.

  7. MeghanNotMarkle says:

    I’m glad that he was able to catch it in time. I don’t know how many people I’ve encountered who didn’t know men can get breast cancer. My sorority’s philanthropy is breast cancer awareness so I’ve talked to TONS of folks about it. Male breast cancer definitely needs more awareness.

  8. fabulous says:

    I wish him well. Many people think of breast cancer as a woman’s disease and I think its brave of him to come forward. Hope he has a speedy recovery.