Mohs Micrographic Surgery, also called simply Mohs Surgery, has stood the test of time. Developed by Dr. Frederic E. Mohs in the 1940s and accepted into the dermatology mainstream in the 1970s, its potency and effectiveness in completely removing skin cancer has made it a mainstay in modern-day anti-cancer techniques.
The numbers speak for themselves. For the treatment of primary basal-cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer, treatments using Mohs Surgery have proven to be between 97% and 99.8% successful. Recurrent basal-cell cancer has a 94% success rate, while treatment of melanoma-in-situ (meaning melanoma on the area of skin where it originated) can range as high as 99%. Mohs Surgery is also used to treat other melanomas as well as squamous cell carcinoma and other conditions.
Mohs Surgery distinguishes itself from other surgeries by the degree to which it preserves healthy tissue. The procedure begins by removing the tumors using a curette, a type of surgical instrument, after the operation site has been treated with local anesthetic. During the procedure itself, a piece of tissue is taken from the area immediately surrounding any visible tumor(s).
Unlike many other skin cancer procedures, which involve removing a larger amount of tissue near the growth site, Mohs Surgery involves using a much smaller “free margin” of nearby skin, meaning as much healthy tissue is preserved as possible.
Samples of this tissue are examined under a microscope by the lead physician, who is looking for remaining cancer cells that would not have been removed with the curette. If any are found, more tissue is removed from the surrounding area and examined, until the lead physician is confident that all of the cancer cells have been removed.
Mohs Surgery is a simple but sophisticated process of gathering information. Only 20 to 30 minutes of time in the procedure is spent in actual surgery. The rest is spent preparing and analyzing the tissue samples.
During this time, the patient is fully conscious and accompanied by a nurse, who remains on hand to answer any questions and soothe any concerns or anxieties that the patient may experience. Mohs Surgery can usually be completed in one day; however, in the event that many areas of cancerous cells are discovered, an extra day of surgery may be required.
The recovery process is usually incident-free. This is because the operation site is relatively small, sometimes only the size of a small lesion requiring stitches. It may even be possible to require no stitches and to allow the surgical wound to heal naturally. In the event of a larger wound, the lead physician can make the assessment that any visible scarring, if any, can be treated with the appropriate reconstructive surgery at a later date.
Mohs Surgery has saved and improved countless lives. That’s why the American College of Mohs Micrographic Surgery and Cutaneous Oncology was created, to offer an exclusive medical subspecialty for the performance of Mohs Surgery. No physician without this subspecialty may serve as lead physician during a Mohs Surgery procedure.
To learn more about how Mohs Surgery might just be the key to your complete recovery from skin cancer, call us now.