If you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with skin cancer, you may have come across the term “Mohs surgery.” Mohs surgery is a specialized procedure that offers highly effective treatment for certain types of skin cancer. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what Mohs surgery entails and provide you with the information you need as a patient.
Understanding Skin Cancer
Before delving into Mohs surgery, it’s important to have a basic understanding of skin cancer.
Skin cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the outermost layer of the skin (epidermis) start to grow uncontrollably.
The most commonly occurring types of skin cancer are squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. Melanoma is another type of skin cancer that is less common but more aggressive.
What Is Mohs Surgery?
The procedure, also known as Mohs micrographic surgery, is an advanced technique surgeons utilize to treat skin cancer.
It involves the precise removal of cancerous tissue, layer by layer, until no cancer cells remain.
The primary goal of Mohs surgery is to achieve complete cancer removal while preserving as much healthy surrounding tissue as possible.
How Does Mohs Surgery Work?
The procedure generally goes as follows:
Before the procedure begins, local anesthesia is administered to numb the area being treated. This ensures that you remain comfortable throughout the surgery.
The surgeon starts by removing the visible tumor along with a thin layer of surrounding tissue.
The removed tissue is carefully mapped and labeled to maintain accuracy during subsequent stages.
The excised tissue is then processed in the lab, where it is divided into sections, stained, and meticulously examined under a microscope.
This step allows the surgeon to identify any remaining cancer cells, so they can be removed.
The surgeon analyzes the tissue sections to determine if any cancer cells are present at the margins.
If cancer cells are still detected, the process is repeated, and additional layers of tissue are removed from the areas where the cancer cells remain.
Once the surgeon confirms that all cancer cells have been removed, the wound is closed.
Depending on the size and location of the defect, various closure techniques may be used, such as sutures, skin grafts, or flaps.
Advantages of Mohs Surgery
Mohs surgery offers several advantages over other treatment options for skin cancer:
High Cure Rates
Mohs surgery has incredibly high cure rates, with studies reporting success rates of 98-99% for certain types of skin cancer.
By removing cancerous tissue in stages, Mohs surgery minimizes the amount of healthy tissue that needs to be excised, resulting in less scarring and improved cosmetic outcomes.
Precise Margin Control
Using microscopic analysis, Mohs surgery allows surgeons to precisely identify and remove cancer cells at the margins, reducing the risk of recurrence.
Postoperative Care and Recovery
After Mohs surgery, proper postoperative care is crucial for optimal healing.
Your surgeon will provide specific instructions on wound care, including how to clean the surgical site, change dressings, and apply any prescribed ointments or creams.
It’s important to follow these instructions closely to minimize complications and promote faster recovery.
When Do Patients Need Mohs Surgery?
Mohs surgery is typically recommended for patients in specific situations, where it provides the greatest benefit. Here are some scenarios when Mohs surgery may be necessary:
High-Risk or Aggressive Skin Cancers
Mohs surgery is often recommended for high-risk or aggressive types of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
These cancers may have irregular borders, grow rapidly, or have a higher chance of recurrence.
Large Tumors or Tumors in Critical Areas
If the tumor is large or located in areas that are functionally or cosmetically important (such as the face, nose, ears, or eyelids), Mohs surgery may be the preferred treatment option.
Mohs surgery allows for precise removal of the tumor while minimizing damage to surrounding structures.
Recurrent or Previously Treated Skin Cancers
If you have had skin cancer before, and it has returned, or if you have previously undergone treatment that was unsuccessful, Mohs surgery may be recommended.
Its meticulous nature ensures the complete removal of cancer cells and reduces the risk of recurrence.
Cancers with Unclear Borders
Some skin cancers may have unclear borders, making it challenging to determine the full extent of the tumor.
Mohs surgery is particularly beneficial in these cases, as it allows for real-time evaluation of tissue margins to ensure thorough removal.
Cosmetically Sensitive Areas
Mohs surgery is often favored in areas where preserving cosmetic appearance is crucial, such as the face.
By selectively removing cancerous tissue and minimizing the removal of healthy tissue, Mohs surgery aims to maintain an aesthetically pleasing appearance.
If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer or suspect you may have it, consult with a qualified dermatologist or dermatologic surgeon who can help with your specific case.
Mohs Surgery in Miami, FL
Mohs surgery is a highly effective and precise technique for treating skin cancer. By removing cancerous tissue one layer at a time, Mohs surgery offers excellent cure rates while preserving surrounding healthy tissue. If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, consult with a qualified dermatologic surgeon to determine if Mohs surgery is the right treatment option for you.
You can rely on the Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center if you need Mohs surgery in Florida. Our very own board-certified and fellowship-trained skin cancer surgeon, Dr. T.J. Giuffrida, will make sure you receive the best possible care. You may reach our helpful staff today at (305) 461-2000 or use our online request form to book a visit.
We look forward to serving you!