What Is Mohs Surgery?

You know the importance of doing a skin cancer self-check and encouraging your family members to do the same.   A monthly head-to-toe check can help you to identify anything that is changing about your skin.  It should become a regular habit, and your doctor might even suggest that you do more frequent checks.  You might notice lesions that your doctor can thoroughly examine to determine if they are precancerous or cancerous.

If skin cancer is diagnosed early, it can be relatively easy to cure.  There are three main types: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.  While they vary in appearance, there are early signs that one of the three types is developing, which is why it is important not to ignore changes that you notice in your skin.  If a spot isn’t painful, often it is tempting to ignore it.  Keep in mind that skin cancer may be painless, so even if you don’t feel uncomfortable, the spot that you noticed during your recent self-check might still be dangerous to your health.

Common warning signs include spots such as birthmarks and moles that change in size, color, texture, or appear after the age of 21.  Also pay attention to any spot that is irregular in outline, increases in size, and appears multicolored.  A sore that does not heal properly within three weeks or that continues to scab or bleed is also something to show your doctor along with other spots that seem suspicious.

Despite your best efforts to protect yourself with sunscreen and to avoid tanning booths and other exposure to UV sun radiation, a cancerous spot can develop.  Mohs surgery is a form of micrographic surgery that can treat most common forms of skin cancer.   This time-tested technique, which was developed during the 1930s, is commonly used today for the treatment of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, two of the most common forms of skin cancer.<

When treating skin cancer, one of the main concerns is to not harm healthy tissue while still eliminating the problem area.  For patients, many of whom are diagnosed with a lesion on their face, concerns about preserving their appearance often are at the top of their list.  The goal of Mohs surgery is to leave the smallest wound and to preserve as much healthy skin while ensuring that all of the cancer has been removed.

During the Mohs procedure, the surgeon uses a microscope to examine all of the tissue that is removed, eliminating the need to make an educated estimation about the size and depth of the skin cancer.  The surgeon is able to remove cancer cells and then stop once it is clear that the margins of the lesion are free of cancer.  While some other procedures do involve microscopic examination to see if the cancer successful has been removed, Mohs surgery involves much more thorough examination, as all of the tissue is reviewed under a microscope.

While not all forms of skin cancer require Mohs surgery based on their location on the body and cure rates through other forms of treatment, it is an option that preserves the face, hands, and other highly visible areas.  The procedure can be more lengthy than other techniques, but it does involve a thorough examination intended to create a small wound and less noticeable scar, making it a desirable option.

Recommended Posts