Known as the gold standard in treating skin cancers, micrographic Mohs surgery is a highly effective treatment for the removal of the most common types of skin cancers. It is actually named for the medical student who perfected it back in the 1930s, but has since been modified to today’s standards. If your dermatologist has recommended this procedure to treat your skin cancer, here is what to expect with Mohs surgery.
Who Can Benefit From Mohs Surgery?
Patients with the two most common types of skin cancer will benefit from this technique. These include basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas (sometimes even melanomas).
It is especially beneficial for those with skin cancers on the face, ears, or genitals. It is highly successful for large lesions, those that are more aggressive, and those types which have a tendency to recur.
A Waiting Game
Many surgical procedures are performed and once completed, tissue is sent to a lab for analysis. You receive results days later. Mohs surgery is unique in that it accomplishes everything at the same time.
The surgery is done in stages, and it allows for the surgeon to see where the cancer stops unlike other types of skin cancer procedures. It must be done in a facility that has a lab.
You are awake throughout the procedure with only an injection of anesthesia at the site of the lesion.
The surgeon begins by cutting out the visible part of the cancer. Next a thin layer of surrounding skin around the margins is removed and sent to the lab to be sectioned and analyzed. The patient is bandaged and waits while this testing is completed. If there are still cancer cells, another layer is removed and again sent to the lab. This process continues until the surgeon no longer sees cancer cells.
The process can take some time, even hours, as you wait while tissue is checked. Bring a book or something to help pass the time.
Once the surgeon has gotten all the cancerous cells removed, the wound can be left to heal on its own or stitches may be required.
The Advantages Of Mohs Surgery
- It is performed as an outpatient with only local anesthesia
- Lab work is done on site
- You get precise results with 100% of the tumor margins examined
- It spares healthy tissue and leaves the smallest possible scar
- Up to 99% cure rate for skin cancers that have not been treated before
- Up to 94% cure rate for skin cancers previously treated or those which have recurred
After the surgery, be prepared to rest. Avoid any strenuous activity for several days and refrain from bending. Antibiotics most likely will be prescribed to prevent infection. A bandage will be applied and you will be instructed when to remove it and how to care for your wound.