Skin cancer. It’s the most common cancer in America according to the American Dermatological Society, and it can strike seemingly out of nowhere.
“I didn’t go to tanning salons!” you might say upon receiving your diagnosis. “I wore sunscreen my entire life!”
While the medical community has spent decades trying to understand the causes of skin cancer, it has come to a consensus regarding which surgical procedure is among the most effective and preferable to undertake. That procedure is called Mohs Micrographic Surgery, or more commonly, Mohs Surgery.
Back in the late 1930s, Dr. Frederic Mohs didn’t like how the skin cancer procedures of the day involved the removal of so much healthy tissue, while also being unable to accurately determine that all of the cancer had been removed. He knew there must be a better way, and he spent the next 30 years developing the technique that now bears his name.
In fact, a medical subspecialty has been created specifically for competence in the Mohs Surgery procedure. It is awarded by a single governing body, the American College of Mohs Micrographic Surgery and Cutaneous Oncology.
What makes it so unique? On its face, Mohs Surgery begins like any other skin cancer surgery. A lead physician uses a curette—a type of steel surgical instrument—to remove all visible tumor(s) from the cancer site. Nothing unusual about that.
But the next steps of Mohs Surgery are what set it apart. A very precise area of tissue—sometimes within as little as 1mm from the initial tumor site—is removed and separated into samples that can be viewed under a microscope. Colored dye is used to illustrate the contours of the sample before the lead physician examines it, looking for remaining cancer cells.
Finding none, the process is over. But this is rare. Usually, the lead physician finds cancer cells that managed to escape the curette. At this point, another precise area of tissue from slightly farther out around the tumor site is removed and examined again in this fashion.
This process repeats itself, usually no more than 2 or 3 times, until absolutely no visible cancer is left in the proximate tissue. In contrast to prior skin cancer procedures, this assessment is not a guess; it is done with human eyes looking through a state-of-the-art microscope.
Once the highest degree of certainty possible has been established, the surgery is complete. The surgical wound is dressed and allowed to heal, sometimes requiring only a few stitches.
In this way, Mohs Surgery preserves a maximum of healthy, cancer-free tissue, which, in addition to simply being self-evidently preferable, also improves recovery time, minimizes pain, and reduces the appearance of scar tissue.
This is why we have offered Mohs Surgery since day one: because it provides the neatest, best, and most certain means of removing all of your skin cancer the first time, one and done.