Any cancer diagnosis can be scary. In the case of skin cancer, the American Academy of Dermatology estimates that 9,500 Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. That’s 3 million cases a year.
But what aren’t more people talking about this? It may be related to the fact that skin cancer is also one of the most successfully treated cancers in the United States, and one of the main factors in that high success rate is a treatment procedure called Mohs Micrographic Surgery.
More commonly known as Mohs Surgery, this procedure uses precision techniques to target and remove the cancer cells from your body while minimizing the removal of healthy tissue.
But how can we be sure that the cancer is all gone? We do it using the methods that Dr. Mohs pioneered in the 1940s, only with superior modern technology.
The procedure consists of the following simple steps. A nurse administers local anesthetic to the patient at the operation site. When it has taken effect, the lead physician creates a small incision to make the tumor(s) accessible before using a metal instrument to remove as much of the cancerous material as possible.
Once this is done, the lead physician removes a small area of tissue from around the incision site. The margin between where the tumor was and the nearby tissue is extremely small, sometimes as little as 1mm. This is done to preserve as much healthy tissue and avoid removing healthy tissue willy-nilly, as was done in olden times.
The tissue that the lead physician just removed is sent to a medical technician, who prepares it to be viewed under a microscope. While the patient waits patiently, the lead physician examines the tissue samples for any remaining cancer cells. Dye is applied to the samples to bring out the contours of the tissue.
If cancer cells are discovered, the patient removes another area of tissue, this time from slightly farther away from the initial cancer site. This piece of tissue is similarly prepared and examined, and the process repeats as necessary until no further cancer cells are visible.
This method, which is the defining feature of Mohs Surgery, allows the lead physician to obtain a high degree of certainty that no cancer cells remain, while also preserving as much healthy tissue as possible.
The procedure is usually finished in one day, only 20 to 30 minutes of which are spent actually being operated upon, while the rest is spent analyzing the samples. After the procedure, the patient will have a small surgical wound which is sometimes so small, it may not even require stitches.
The precision, certainty, and ease of recovery are what make Mohs Surgery so unique. In addition, Mohs Surgery has a high success rate, as high as 99% for basal-cell carcinoma and 95% and above for many other forms of skin cancer.
Call us to learn more about Mohs Surgery. You don’t have to be afraid anymore.