Being diagnosed with skin cancer can spark several questions including: Am I in serious danger? How did this happen? What options do I have in treatment? You are not alone. In the United States more than 2 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year and most likely have these same questions. It is crucial to be an active participant in your treatment, and when considering your options it is important to recognize a skin cancer that is visible to you- or even the physician- may just be the tip of the iceberg.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery is a process that can remove all of the skin cancer, minimizes the risk of recurrence, and leaves as little scarring as possible. Various treatments of skin cancer include: scraping and burning, routine excision, radiation, and in some cases, use of a cream. While these remedies may be fine in some cancers, they have a higher potential of leaving cancerous cells behind, making it necessary for the lesions to be removed again. In fact, these other treatment modalities have 10-15 times higher recurrence when compared to treatment with Mohs surgery.
Mohs is the most effective treatment for most types of cancer to date with a cure rate of 99 percent for skin cancer. By removing the least amount of tissue, it also offers superior cosmetic results. American College of Mohs Surgery surgeons have extensive training in reconstructive surgery and are generally able to perform the reconstructive surgery immediately after microscopic analysis confirms that the cancer has been completely removed.
What types of cancer are treated with Mohs surgery?
The two most common skin cancers treated with Mohs surgery are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. The cure rates with Mohs surgery are up to 99 percent for primary cancers and 95 percent for recurrent cancers. Other types of skin cancers such as sebaceous carcinoma, atypical fibroxanthoma, dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans and others can also be treated with Mohs surgery.
Melanoma is usually treated with wide local excision. There are certain melanomas located on the head and neck that can be treated with Mohs surgery. The technique is modified slightly from the traditional Mohs surgery and may require a delay in the reconstruction.
Types of Lesions that Most Likely Warrant Mohs Surgery:
- Lesions located in cosmetically sensitive or functionally critical areas on the head and neck, around the eyes, nose, lips, scalp, fingers, toes, or genitals.
- Lesions that are large, aggressive or growing rapidly.
- Lesions that have ill-defined edges.
What are the advantages of Mohs surgery?
- It has the highest cure rate of any existing procedure.
- It preserves the maximum amount of normal skin resulting in smaller scars.
- It involves fewer reconstructive procedures.
- Mohs minimizes the risk of recurrence, reducing costs of more invasive and serious surgery.
- The procedure is performed in Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer’s outpatient clinic surgical suite, with pathologic examinations conducted immediately.
- Surgery is often completed in a single day.
Mohs micrographic surgery involves three steps:
- Removal: During removal, the Mohs surgeon removes tissue from the site and searches for evidence of extended cancer roots.
- Examination of tissue: Once the evident tumor is removed, the doctor traces the path of the tumor using a map of the surgical site and a microscope to examine the excised tissue.
- Reconstruction: Once all the cancerous tissue is removed, the surgeon reconstructs the area with aesthetics in mind. Some wounds heal on their own, while other require stitches to close the wound.
Mohs Surgery Success Rates:
- Primary basal cell carcinoma removal has a 97-99 percent cure rate
- Squamous cell carcinoma removal has a 94 percent cure rate
- Melanoma in situ removal success ranges from 75-95 percent, depending heavily on the skill of the surgeon.
Mohs Surgery Frequently Asked Questions
Skin cancer is a serious concern and affects hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center has the experience and knowledge to help educate and treat you. If you would like to learn more about Mohs surgery, please visit the FAQs page or contact us.