Often times, individuals that have been diagnosed with a skin cancer turn to basic treatment procedures. These treatments prove ineffective because they rely on the human eye to determine the extent of the cancer. In an effort to preserve as much healthy tissue as possible, doctors may take too little tissue, leaving the roots of the cancer untouched with the ability to resume growth and spread. Overcautious doctors may take too much, which causes excessive scarring. There is an answer to these problems: Mohs micrographic surgery.
Mohs micrographic surgery is a highly effective treatment for skin cancer. With a 99% cure rate, treatment with Mohs surgery offers the highest rates of cure for patients with basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma.
What can I expect from Mohs Micrographic surgery?
Mohs surgery uses the precision of a microscope to trace and ensure the removal of skin cancer down to its roots. This procedure allows the surgeon to see beyond the visible disease and to remove the entire tumor, leaving healthy tissue unharmed. Because Mohs surgery is the most exact and precise method of tumor removal, it minimizes the chance of regrowth and lessens the potential for scarring or disfigurement.
How is Mohs surgery performed?
To begin the surgery, Mohs surgeons examine the removed tissue for evidence of extended cancer roots. Once the visible tumor is removed, Mohs surgeons use a map of the surgical site and a microscope to trace the paths of the tumor. The “map” is created from an additional, thin layer of tissue from the tumor site that is used as a guide to the precise location of any remaining cancer cells. If there are remaining cancer cells in the tumor site, the Mohs surgeon returns to the area and removes another thin layer of tissue only from the specific area within each section where cancer cells were detected. The surgeon then microscopically examines the newly removed tissue for additional cancer cells until the cancer is completely gone, layer-by-layer.
The selected removal of diseased tissue allows for the preservation of normal tissue. Because this systematic microscopic search reveals the roots of skin cancer, Mohs surgery offers the highest chance for complete removal of the cancer while sparing the normal tissue. Cure rates exceed 99% for new cancers, and 95% for recurrent cancers.
What can I expect from my surgeon after Mohs micrographic surgery?
Physicians trained in Mohs surgery act as surgeons, pathologists, and reconstructive surgeons. The Mohs surgeon will perform the reconstructive procedure necessary to repair the wounded area.
These physicians are well educated in the field of pathology. With their extensive knowledge of skin and unique pathological skills, they are able to remove only the diseased tissue, preserving healthy tissue and minimizing the cosmetic impact of the surgery.
As with any surgery, possible complications and/or risks can occur, as well as after-surgery care, and healing time.
Who is it for?
Mohs micrographic surgery is used when:
- Skin cancer was treated previously and recurred
- Scar tissue exists in the area of the cancer
- The cancer is in an area where it is important to preserve healthy tissue for maximum functional and cosmetic result, such as eyelids, nose, ears, lips
- The cancer is large
- The edges of the cancer cannot be clearly defined
- The cancer grows rapidly or uncontrollably
If you have skin cancer, why rely on any method of treatment besides the best. Rely on Mohs micrographic surgery.