Mohs Micrographic Surgery Has Changed How Skin Cancer is Treated
- Posted on: Sep 15 2019
As much as we have learned about skin cancer, this disease continues to occur at alarming rates. A skin cancer diagnosis may feel surprising and frightening, rightfully so. While we strongly encourage our patients to be mindful about their sun habits, not only for themselves but also for their children, we also want to offer a glimpse of hope that skin cancer does not need to be unnecessarily stressful. In our Sarasota office, patients may choose to undergo Mohs Micrographic surgery to remove cancerous skin cells.
What is Mohs Skin Cancer Surgery?
The Mohs micrographic surgical technique is named after its inventor, Dr. Frederic Mohs, who began perfecting his unique process in the 1930s. Mohs surgery is all about sparing as much tissue as possible. This is achieved through meticulous mapping and “slicing” of thin layers of skin in intervals. By removing only what is absolutely necessary, the Mohs technique maximizes the efficiency of skin cancer treatment, securing a success rate of over 99 percent. At the same time, Mohs minimizes the disruption of healthy tissue and thus decreases the chance of scarring typically related to skin cancer surgery.
What to Know about Skin Cancer and Mohs Surgery
Skin cancer initially affects a few cells in one layer of the skin. We could compare the nucleus of skin cancer as the trunk of a tree. From this nucleus or trunk, roots span out into other cells and layers of tissue. Mohs surgery is like cutting one segment of the trunk to observe the presence of roots.
The Mohs technique is performed as an outpatient procedure. Treatment occurs right here in our office. Before commencing with the surgery, we administer local anesthetic which completely numbs the layers of tissue on which Mohs will be performed. Patients are awake but feel nothing as:
- A slight layer of tissue from the cancerous lesion is removed.
- A very small amount of surrounding tissue is removed and marked for reference. This is referred to as mapping; it allows us to have an accurate depiction of the borders of the growth.
- The removed tissue is immediately observed under a microscope to look for “roots” that suggest cancerous cells remain in the next layer of tissue.
- If any indication of roots is observed under microscopic examination, we return to the surgical site to remove another layer of tissue from the growth. Typically, Mohs requires no more than 3 passes.
After Mohs surgery, the surgical site may need to be closed with stitches. In some cases, reconstruction is needed. Follow up also includes routine skin cancer checks performed at least once a year.
Have you had your skin cancer screening this year? Contact our Teaneck, NJ office to schedule your visit with us.