Skin cancer is the most common cancer in America. As you can imagine, many treatments for skin cancer have come and gone, but there’s one treatment that has been in use virtually unaltered for almost 40 years. It’s called Mohs Micrographic Surgery, or Mohs Surgery for short.
Dr. Mohs developed the technique that now bears his name starting in the 1940s, and by the mid-70s his ideas had grown to become standard practice. Why? Because Mohs Surgery is a “one-and-done” surgical procedure with a high success rate and minimal risk that provides the highest degree of certainty possible that the postoperative patient is cancer-free.
In other words, Mohs Surgery is safe, thorough, and effective.
How does it work? Mohs Surgery involves a team of medical professionals including a lead physician, an assisting physician, a nurse, and a medical technician. The physician who runs lead on your Mohs Surgery procedure will carry the medical subspecialty that pertains to Mohs Surgery as issued and recognized solely by the American College of Mohs Micrographic Surgery and Cutaneous Oncology.
Generally, the assisting physician is in the process of obtaining the medical subspecialty and will assist the lead physician. The nurse’s role is also very important, and includes answering the patient’s questions, making the patient comfortable, responding to patient anxieties, assisting in the surgical procedure itself, and instructing the patient in dressing and wound care after the surgery is complete.
The medical technician also plays an extremely pivotal role. The patient may never actually meet him or her, but the medical technician’s job is to prepare the tissue samples that are drawn during the procedure for analysis by the physician.
The surgery itself is performed with the help of a local anesthetic to remove any pain in the area of skin that is suspected to be cancerous. Using a surgical instrument called a curette, the physician manually removes all visible tumors from the operation site.
The next stage of the surgery is what distinguishes Mohs Surgery from other skin cancer surgeries before or since. The lead physician removes an area of tissue from around the tumor site, which is divided into thin samples that will fit on a microscope slide.
The lead physician then examines the samples under a powerful microscope, looking for cancerous cells in the surrounding tissues. If any such cells are found, another sample of tissue is taken. Generally, this step in the procedure is repeated twice and occasionally three times until the lead physician is satisfied that the entire cancerous mass and all of its cells have been successfully removed.
The lack of general anesthetic also sets Mohs Surgery apart. Generally, the patient is conscious throughout this entire procedure, further cutting down on the overall risk factor by eliminating the possibility of any rare but not unheard-of complications associated with general anesthetic.
The procedure must begin early in the morning to assure the best chance of finishing in one day. There are instances in which surgery must continue into a second day, but once it has been completed, the lead physician has positive proof—as positive as any medical professional can be—that the cancer has been completely removed.
This is the power of Mohs Surgery. To learn if you might be a candidate for Mohs Surgery, contact us today.