Dr. Pennoyer Discusses Skin Cancers on the Ray Dunaway Show

Transcript of Audio

RAY DUNAWAY, HOST: With us for a few, we’re getting into summer and I checked the UV Index for today and it’s like two, okay. But it’s not uncommon in those summer months to get to ten, even eleven at times, particularly if you are close to water. So we thought, well, okay, it’s time for that heads-up in what’s new in the treatment of skin cancers. Jennifer Pennoyer is a dermatologist. Her office in Bloomfield, but she’s on staff at St. Francis Hospital, and she is here for a few minutes this morning to give us an update. First of all, good morning doctor, great to have you on.

DR. JENNIFER PENNOYER, ST. FRANCIS HOSPITAL: Good morning Ray. Thanks for having me on.

DUNAWAY: Alright so, couple of things. Number one, even in the middle of winter I suppose, is sun primarily the reason that you develop these, let’s say to begin with, keratosis?

PENNOYER: Absolutely. You know, the sun is getting stronger and we’re losing our ozone, so we’re generating more and more skin cancers. The rates are skyrocketing and it’s truly staggering, the numbers. More than two million people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year and melanoma is the leading cause of death.

DUNAWAY: And sun is the leading reason for this. Would that be true? I mean, for…

PENNOYER: Absolutely.

DUNAWAY: Okay, so contact with some chemical or something, I suppose it could… But you’re more likely the sun would be the problem.

PENNOYER: Correct.

DUNAWAY: Okay, so let’s say you have a keratosis, which is basically a scaly patch on the, I’ve had a couple burned off. Does that eventually, with exposure, then go into other forms like basal cell or squamous cell or, God forbid, melanoma?

PENNOYER: Let’s be clear here, Ray. So there’s keratosis could be most likely actinic keratosis, which is a pre-cancer. But a keratosis could also be a seborrheic keratosis, which is what I lovingly refer to as a barnacle, the marker of middle age. So when you were getting something burned off as a pre-cancer, the actinic keratosis, yes, one in ten to one in fifteen of those are going to turn into a basal cell or squamous cell if you leave it there. We’re going to have to cut those out. So you’d rather get those at the pre-cancer stage. And more sun damage, more UV exposure and damage to your DNA is going to make that turn into something worse.

DUNAWAY: So you have to take this seriously.

PENNOYER: Absolutely.

DUNAWAY: Okay, let’s talk about, because here’s just on the research I’ve done on this. You’ve certainly done a lot more because you’re practicing. But the deal is, it’s like, the more you realize about cancer, the more vague…I mean, it’s very diverse, there are all kinds of forms. We talked about squamous, we talked about, we talked about, you know, some basal cell, and then of course melanoma. But there are a lot more variants I guess.

PENNOYER: Absolutely. There’s a lot more variants, but that’s more something I’ve got to worry about. More important for me is that we get the message out there, that, you know, we really need to protect ourselves. And what the American Cancer Society is saying is that only about thirty-two percent of adults use sunscreen regularly. And that number drops to ten percent in the high school population.

DUNAWAY: What’s the magic number now when it comes to sunscreen, the SPF?

PENNOYER: Thirty and above.

DUNAWAY: Okay, so we’re talking serious here. And of course if you’re near water you need to re-apply it.

PENNOYER: Absolutely. And you know most of us don’t apply enough sunscreen so that we’re not really even getting that SPF-30. So you’ve really got to do a shot glass full of sunscreen and apply it every two to three hours.

DUNAWAY: Slather it on. You know, as far as the basal cell and the other forms…you know, the squamous cell, the basal cell…those are not as vicious as melanoma. Is that correct?

PENNOYER: That’s correct. And Connecticut actually has one of the highest incidence rates of melanoma.

DUNAWAY: So this is real simple. Just wear a hat and put a lot of stuff on you. Oh, another question. I think I’ve asked you this before. Let’s say that you are dark complected, let’s say you’re African American or Latina, I mean, you still get skin cancer correct?

PENNOYER: Absolutely, absolutely. And we recently had the anniversary of Bob Marley’s death who died of melanoma.

DUNAWAY: Well, there you are. So okay, so just slather it on as you’re on your way down to the shore or by the pool or whatever it is. Pick some up, SPF-30 or bigger, right?

PENNOYER: That sounds great.

DUNAWAY: Doctor, it’s always great. Thanks.

PENNOYER: Thanks so much, Ray.

DUNAWAY: Alright, talk to you later. That’s Jennifer Pennoyer. She is a dermatologist on staff at St. Francis, also practices in Bloomfield.

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