Mohs surgery is a skin cancer treatment that involves the systematic removal and analysis of thin layers of skin at the site of a skin cancer tumor. The procedure is continued until the last traces of cancerous tissue have been eliminated in one visit.
Mohs micrographic surgery differs from other cancer removal procedures because tissue can be immediately excised and examined under the microscope. In this way, the surgeon can determine when all cancerous tissue has been eliminated and avoid removing healthy, non-cancerous tissue unnecessarily.
Advantages of Mohs Micrographic Surgery
The size of the wound is smaller with Mohs surgery, and this allows for a faster recovery and fewer Mohs surgery scars. Due to the high precision of the procedure, it is perfect for removing skin cancer in areas that are especially sensitive or where scarring is particularly undesirable. These areas include the face (nose, eyelids, lips, and hairline), hands, feet, and genital areas.
Mohs surgery also significantly reduces the chance that skin cancer will recur. Studies have shown that patients who undergo Mohs surgery are more likely to be cured than patients who undergo other types of skin cancer surgery.
Do you suspect you may have skin cancer? Learn about Skin Cancer Detection at our offices.
Skin Cancer Types and Mohs Surgery
Mohs surgery is most commonly used to remove basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, the most common types of skin cancer. Mohs surgery can also sometimes be used to eradicate melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.
Ninety percent of skin cancer cases are basal cell carcinoma, which is a non-spreading kind of cancer. Therefore, it is usually easy to treat.
Squamous cell carcinoma is skin cancer that forms in the squamous cells, which are on the surface of the skin. This kind of skin cancer, which also does not spread, is more common in men and in people with fair skin. It is often found on the ears after they have been frequently exposed to sunlight.
Melanoma is the type of skin cancer that spreads to other areas of the body. If detected early, there is a 99 percent chance of survival. If the disease has become advanced, however, it can cause death. One person dies every hour from melanoma, so early detection is vital.
What to Expect from Mohs Skin Cancer Treatment
A local anesthetic is used to numb the tumor site. The cancer cells are then scraped gently with an instrument called a curette. Each tissue section is examined under the microscope, a process that takes approximately one hour.
After the tissue is examined, your surgeon can tell if cancer is still present, in which case another thin layer of tissue must be removed until all of the cancer cells have been eliminated.
Surgeons trained in Mohs micrographic surgery are also trained in reconstruction techniques to minimize scarring. In some cases, BOTOX injections may be helpful during the healing process to improve the appearance of Mohs surgery scars.
Contact our office at (415) 362-2238 to find out more about Mohs surgery in San Francisco.