Taking Care of Skin Cancer with the Help of Mohs Surgery

Published on July 14, 2014

Skin cancer can be treated and is curable, particularly if detected early. One of the treatment options for skin cancer is Mohs surgery.

Traditional Treatment

Traditional treatment for skin cancer has relied on the doctor’s intuition to a great extent. The traditional method involved removing the visibly cancerous tissue, such as a mole, and the surrounding tissue in the hope that the cancer-causing tissue was completely removed.

This caused two problems. First, there was a risk that cancerous tissue may be left behind, since the doctor was not able to test the tissue health during surgery. The second problem was that healthy tissue may be unnecessarily removed. This could leave a scar, and this might be difficult for the patient’s sense of wellbeing.

Mohs surgery came about as a solution to these problems. This type of surgery relies on progressively removing cancerous tissue from the body. During this, not much of the healthy tissues surrounding the cancerous tissue are removed; this keeps the scar as small as possible.

This procedure involves consistently studying excised tissue under the microscope to ensure that the cancerous tissues have all been removed. If the cancerous tissue is completely removed, there is less chance of cancer spreading to surrounding tissues. Therefore, Mohs surgery offers better outcomes than traditional treatment in the long term.

Benefits of Mohs Surgery

Some of the other benefits of Mohs surgery include the more reliable outcome, particularly after other methods to treat the skin cancer have failed, and the fact that it can be an outpatient procedure; there is no need for long-term hospitalization unless the doctor deems fit. Mohs surgery can treat most of the common types of skin cancer, including basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma.

Mohs surgery is typically recommended when you want to preserve as much healthy tissue as possible. Some types of skin cancer are spread over a large area. They may have vague borders, making it difficult to tell healthy skin apart from cancerous tissue unless under a microscope. Sometimes, the cancer might be in a sensitive area of the body, so removing too much skin from this area may not be recommended. In all of these instances, Mohs surgery is a suitable treatment choice.

Complexity

Mohs surgery can involve various stages and, depending on the extent of the cancer, can involve many steps. Smaller incisions can heal on their own, but if the incision can get infected or is large, stitches may be used.

Skin Reconstruction

For extensive Mohs surgery, many patients may prefer to have skin grafted on to the area to hide the scar. This procedure may be performed on the same day as Mohs surgery or on a different date as determined by your doctor. Often, the procedures are performed by different specialists.

Mohs surgery can take several hours to perform, and you might also want to take a few days off work if you are planning on a skin reconstruction procedure as well.

Contact Us Today

If you suspect a lesion of being cancerous, it’s best to contact our office as soon as possible to address it. Dr. Lawrence Glassman, a skilled board-certified plastic surgeon, will be available for consultation.