Mohs surgery is considered to be the most effective technique for treating basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, the two most common forms of skin cancer. It also offers the highest cure rate while sparing as much healthy tissue as possible. Mohs skin cancer surgery is done in stages.
What is Mohs Surgery?
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer and affects many people around the world. While skin cancer can usually be prevented by limiting time in the sun, it can also occur due to other factors. There are three common types of skin cancer: Squamous cell, Basal cell, and Melanoma. Mohs Surgery is an effective treatment option for basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma.
Basal cell skin cancer is the most common form of skin cancer and is also the easiest to cure. It begins in the basal layer of the skin and is frequently found in areas that are commonly exposed to the sun. Individuals with fair skin tones have a higher risk of developing basal cell skin cancer, though any skin type may develop it. Although rare, this type of skin cancer may spread to other areas of the body.
Squamous cell skin cancer is a common type of skin cancer. It is caused by UV exposure over the course of a lifetime, and most commonly occurs in areas that are frequently exposed to the sun. This form of cancer may spread to other areas of the body, though it is rare.
Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer and is caused by overexposure to UV rays. It can occur in any area of the body but is most commonly found on the back, chest, neck, and face. Melanoma can easily spread to other areas of the body it if is not treated.
Candidates for Mohs Surgery
Mohs surgery is a treatment option for many patients with squamous cell carcinoma or basal cell carcinoma. Mohs surgery is particularly useful for skin cancers that have a high risk of recurrence, are aggressive or large, have borders that are difficult to define, or are located on highly visible areas such as the face or hands.
The Mohs Surgery Procedure
Mohs skin cancer surgery is performed in layers. Layers of the skin will be removed with a scalpel and each layer will be examined under a microscope. To start removing layers, a local anesthetic will be injected, and a scalpel will be used to remove a thin layer of visible cancerous tissue. This tissue will then be sent to an onsite lab to be analyzed to determine the extent of the skin cancer. Your surgeon will then let you know whether another layer of tissue needs to be removed. This entire process is repeated until there are no more cancer cells present.
Once the site is cleared of all cancer cells, the wound may be closed with stitches, depending on its size and location. In the case that a large wound is present, our dermatologists may work with other specialists such as a plastic surgeon, oculoplastic surgeon, or hand surgeon to repair the wound.
After Mohs Surgery
Following Mohs skin cancer surgery, your dermatologist will provide you with post-op instructions to help ensure a quick and easy recovery. Recovery will vary, depending on the site and how much skin was removed. In some cases, in which the incision is large, a skin graft or flap may be required. Reconstructive surgery may also be needed if the excision surgery creates a large scar. Strenuous activity should be avoided for at least 24-48 hours.
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