Posted by Doreen Higgins on Jul 30, 2018
We welcomed Dr. Petruzzelli to our meeting last Wednesday. His presentation to us was at once interesting and disturbing. Dr. Petruzzelli is the Physician-in-Chief of the Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute at Memorial Health and Professor of Surgery for Head, Neck, and Endocrine surgery at the Mercer University School of Medicine, Savannah, Georgia.
The skin, Dr. Petruzzelli said, plays a number of roles in our bodies. It regulates temperature, prevents the loss of fluids and the penetration of toxic substances. It protects the body from the harmful effects of sun and other radiation. It is a sensory organ, telling us of heat, cold, and touch. It has an immunological function and it is an agent in vitamin D synthesis. Dr. Petruzzelli went on to tell us details about the skin and its susceptibility to various types of cancer.

We were shown a diagram of the layers of the skin and told of the various cancers which can affect it. There are melanomas and non-melanomas, and within the latter category there are squamus, basal cell, merkel, and adenexal cancers, and also there is sarcoma. Speaking of these cancers, Dr. Petruzzelli gave us the first of several warnings about the sun; most melanomas and 90% of the non-melanomas are caused by over-exposure to the sun. Skin cancer was 6% of all new cancers among men and 4% of all new cancers among women in 2017. (Among men, prostate cancer is the most prevalent of new cancers each year; among women, it is breast cancer.)

We went on to view pictures of cancerous growths around the head, neck, mouth, ears and tongue – all frightening and disturbing to see, and probably making all of us think of our own vulnerability. Among melanoma cases alone, close to 10,000 will die of it this current year, and it has increased 53% in the past decade. Self examination, annual medical attention to the skin, early detection and prompt remedial action are all key factors in fighting these cancers.

Dr. Petruzzelli’s talk is titled “An Ounce of Prevention,” and he gave us the following mandatory instructions: Keep out of the sun, especially during the middle of the day. Use sunscreen liberally, SPF 15 or higher if exposure cannot be avoided. Reapply the sunscreen every couple of hours. Wear hats, sunglasses, and protective clothing. Keep babies out of the sun completely and make sure small children have sunscreen always. We thanked Dr. Petruzzelli for his talk and reflected to ourselves that there are dangers out there on our beloved island.
Below is a photo of President Elect Tom Stanley and Dr. Petruzzelli.