Frederic E. Mohs, M.D. developed Mohs Micrographic Surgery in the 1930s. The procedure offers the highest possibility for recovery and is used, most often, to treat basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas.
The Mohs Surgery Procedure
Utilizing the accuracy of a microscope, skin cancer is traced and removed down to the root. Initially, once the surgeon outlines the cancerous skin, the area is numbed with a shot of local anesthesia. The cancer is then removed. While the patient rests, the tissue is processed into microscope slides, allowing the physician to see beyond the visible patterns of the disease and to accurately remove the tumor, leaving healthy tissue unharmed. The surgeon carefully examines the edges and the surface of the skin to ensure the “roots” of the cancerous tissue have been removed. If the cancer has been removed, the wound is repaired. If more cancer remains, the surgeon repeats the process again only on the cancerous area, until it has been completely removed.
After the Surgery
The best method of repairing the wound is determined once the cancer is completely removed. Small wounds may heal best naturally or can be closed with stitches. Others require more extensive reconstruction, such as a skin graft or flap, where skin is removed from nearby or distant areas to close the wound. If a tumor is larger, the surgeon may recommend a surgical specialist to complete the reconstruction.
Advantages of Mohs Surgery
Mohs surgery has the highest cure rate available for treating most forms of cancer, while preserving normal tissue. Clinical studies have shown the surgery has a five-year cure rate of up to 99% in the treatment of basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. Secondly, when compared to other skin cancer treatment options such as, cryosurgery or radiation therapy, the procedure is cost effective. Because only the diseased tissue is removed, the resulting scars are minimal.
- Will the surgery be painful?
Once the initial shot of anesthesia is given, you should feel little or no pain. However, there may be some discomfort following the surgery. Tylenol or another pain reliever should be strong enough to relieve the discomfort.
- Where is the procedure performed?
The surgery is performed in our clinic. A hospital operating room or a Mohs Surgery Center is usually not necessary.
- How long will the surgery take?
The surgery is usually completed within four hours. But, you should plan to spend the entire day at the clinic.
- Will there be a scar?
Due to the surgeon’s extensive knowledge of the skin and unique pathological skills, only diseased tissue is removed, keeping scars to a minimum. In general, scars blend well with surrounding skin tissue.
- How long will I spend time away from work?
Most patients can resume normal activities, such as driving or working at the computer, the day after surgery. More strenuous activities, such as vigorous exercise, should be avoided for a least a week.