Mathew Knowles: How common is breast cancer in men?

Matthew Knowles is lucky to be alive and shares his journey finding out he had breast cancer on GMA, a still from his interview with Michael Strahan. Pic credit: GMA
Mathew Knowles is lucky to be alive and shares his journey finding out he had breast cancer on GMA, a still from his interview with Michael Strahan. Pic credit: ABC

Mathew Knowles has a glamorous life with successful children and an enviable career in the music world, and he also has breast cancer. Knowles appeared on Good Morning America on Wednesday to discuss his battle with breast cancer, and he offered Michael Strahan some good advice.

In Strahan’s in-depth interview, we learn that this rare cancer for men is more common with black men. We also learned that it was some telltale signs that Mr. Knowles kept finding that lead him to the doctors, who administered a mammogram that revealed he had cancer.

In the interview on GMA, Mr. Knowles said: “What I want to say is also, I am a survivor of breast cancer.”

Michael Strahan asked Knowles what went through his mind when he heard this diagnosis.

Mr. Knowles said: “So I have that BRCA 2, I have four things to be concerned about, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, melanoma and breast cancer. I have to do all the early detection for the rest of my life.”

The BRCA gene test is a blood test that uses DNA analysis to identify mutations in either one of the two breast cancer susceptibility genes — BRCA1 and BRCA2. Mathew Knowles has BRCA2.

Now Mr. Knowles appears to be in good health. He cautioned Michael Strahan and said: “This is genetics. The first call was to my family. This is genetic and this means my kids are at a higher risk.”

In fighting his cancer, Mr. Knowles changed his outlook on life. He stopped drinking. started exercising, and began meditating and stopped worrying about small matters. He is also strongly urging black men to take better care of themselves.

Michael Strahan shared his own personal history of his brother having breast cancer.

“I learned again that the numbers we have for men on breast cancer are not adequate because we don’t have enough men who come forward and take the exam, Knowles said. “I’m hoping by me speaking out and coming here today you can survive it but has to be early detection and I cannot overemphasize the word early.”

It was early detection, namely noticing some blood spots on his sheets and his shirts that alerted him.

He also shared the news with daughters Beyonce and Solange, who he claimed were tested shortly thereafter.  Today, Mathew is 67 years old. He is married to Gena Avery (since 2013) and he has had two more children.

How common is breast cancer in men?

What we do know about breast cancer for men is it is very rare. Less than 1 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses are men and black men are at the highest risk. The most common age for men to be diagnosed is between 60 and 70.

According to Cancer.net, this is a rare cancer for men but it can be lethal:

This year, an estimated 2,670 men in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Black men have the highest incidence rates (2.7 out of every 100,000 men), followed by white men (1.9 out of every 100,000 men).

It is estimated 500 men will die from breast cancer this year.

Overall, the 5-year survival rate for men with breast cancer is 84%. Individual survival rates depend on different factors, including the stage of disease when it is first diagnosed.

Learn how to avoid the risks and recognize symptoms for breast cancer here.

Good Morning America airs weekday mornings on ABC. 

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