Although skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the United States, it is also among the most successfully treated, right up there with cancer of the thyroid and cervical cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Part of the reason for this is the advent of Mohs Micrographic Surgery, a surgical procedure developed in the 1940s by Dr. Frédéric Mohs. Dr, Mohs recognized the need for a procedure that was both extremely thorough in its removal of cancer cells but also spared as much healthy tissue as possible.
From that realization, Mohs Micrographic Surgery was born. Mohs Surgery, as it is more commonly known, consists of a two-part strategy: first, remove all visible tumors from the cancer site. Second, remove only enough healthy tissue as is necessary to verifiably demonstrate that all of the remaining cancer cells have been removed.
Mohs Surgery begins with a topical anesthetic applied to the affected area. A lead physician heads up a team of qualified medical professionals including an assisting physician, nurse, and medical technician. The lead physician creates a small incision around the main cancerous area, and uses a type of surgical instrument called a curette to scrape out all visible cancer cells.
Then, the verification process begins while the patient is still on the operating table. While the patient is still numb from the anesthetic, the lead physician cuts away a small area of tissue from directly around the tumor site. This tissue is then frozen and delivered to the medical technician, who divides it into thin samples that fit on a microscope slide.
While the patient waits, the lead physician inspects the tissue samples, looking for any traces of cancerous material. If any cancer cells are found, another area of tissue is taken from slightly farther out from the initial cancer site.
This tissue is then divided into samples and the process is repeated until the lead physician can state with a high degree of certainty that all of the cancer has been removed and the patient is now, for all intents and purposes, cancer-free.
Only Mohs Surgery uses this technique, of visually verifying the presence of remaining cancer cells that may have escaped the curette, and making every effort to preserve as much healthy tissue as possible.
Mohs Surgery has success rates of up to 99% in cases of basal-cell carcinoma (the most common skin cancer) as well as melanoma in situ, plus up to 94% in cases of recurrent basal-cell carcinoma, making it one of the most effective treatments for the types of skin cancer you’re most likely to contract.
If you have aa diagnosis of skin cancer and you are weighing your options, contact Dr. John Vine today to learn if Mohs Surgery is the time-tested treatment option you are looking for.