Even with awareness and precautions, the odds are that we will know someone who must address skin cancer eventually, or perhaps will face it ourselves. Feeling that it is inevitable is not the right frame of mind, because skin cancer is, after all, the most preventable form of cancer. What our outlook can include, however, is that most forms of skin cancer are eminently treatable, and that the techniques for removing skin cancers are better than ever. One of those removal techniques is known as Mohs surgery.
Mohs surgery offers the advantages of single-visit, outpatient surgery, local anesthesia, and lab work for progressive diagnosis that is done in real time and on site. In the Mohs procedure, thin layers of cancer-containing cells are progressively removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains.
Precise and Effective
The Mohs procedure is a precision technique that does minimal damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. Compared with standard excision surgery, Mohs enables your surgeon to verify that all cancer cells have been removed at the time of surgery, increasing the likelihood of a cure, and reducing the need for additional treatments or follow-on surgery.
In fact, Mohs surgery is considered the most effective technique for treating common skin cancers, with a 99% rate of cure for cancers that have not been treated before, and a 94% cure rage for skin cancer that has recurred after previous treatment. One reason for its effectiveness is that the surgery, the analysis, and the cosmetic reconstruction are focused in the hands of a board-certified dermatologist and in one procedure. Your surgeon examines 100% of the tumor margins, spares healthy tissue, and leaves the smallest scar possible.
What and How
Mohs surgery is particularly well suited for treating the most commonly occurring forms of skin cancer, such as basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, for which it is considered the gold standard of treatment. The advantages of Mohs surgery are especially appropriate for cosmetically conspicuous and functionally critical areas around the eyes, nose, lips, ears, scalp, fingers, toes, or genitals. Mohs is recommended for carcinomas that are large, aggressive, growing rapidly, or that have indistinct edges.
Mohs surgery is done in stages and in one visit. After removing a layer of tissue, your surgeon examines it under a microscope in an on-site lab. If any cancer cells remain, your surgeon knows the exact area and removes another layer of tissue from that precise location. As much healthy tissue as possible is spared, and your surgeon repeats the process until no cancer cells remain.
Out in the Open
In addition to the physical and clinical advantages of Mohs surgery, we notice an additional, overall benefit. By offering such a precise and effective treatment, Mohs helps people face the possibilities and practice the precautions that help reduce the occurrence of skin cancer in the first place. By bringing the subject even more into the open, one of the threats of cancer – its stealth and secrecy – is dispelled.
If you, or a friend or loved one faces a skin cancer diagnosis, let’s get together and explore the positive possibilities that Mohs surgery may mean for you.