Skin cancer comes in several varieties, and there are a number of methods used to treat these cancers. One treatment has risen to the forefront of dermatology recently, due to its efficiency and high success rates. MOHS surgery is a great option for people with common forms of skin cancer who want to head off trouble down the road.
What is MOHS Surgery?
MOHS surgery was named for its inventor, Frederic E. Mohs, MD. Dr. Mohs developed the technique in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The technique involves the removal of individual layers of cancerous skin in the affected areas (leaving the rest of the skin intact) and examining them throughout the procedure, until a level is reached that is cancer-free. The technique has a very high success rate, as it is much easier for the surgeon to be sure all the cancerous cells are removed with this method than with many others. This techniques is also able to spare healthy tissue. Once removed with MOHS, it is very rare for cancer cells to return.
What Cancer Types Does it Treat?
The two most common types of skin cancers in the United States are called Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) and Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC). Combined, they affect over 3 million people per year, according to skincancer.org. Though deaths are rare from these cancers, they do carry some risk, and may prove disfiguring if left untreated. That’s where MOHS surgery comes in. MOHS is used to treat these two types of cancers, with an extremely high rate of success.
The Surgical Process
MOHS is nearly always performed in an office setting under local anesthesia, not in a hospital. The affected skin is removed layer by layer. Between the removal of each layer, the surgeon examines the skin for remaining cancer cells under a microscope. If they remain, another layer is removed. Depending upon how deep the surgeon has to go to remove all of the cancer cells, minor reconstruction may be necessary. Usually this can be done at the same time as the surgery, cutting down on costs and recovery.
Benefits of MOHS
MOHS is an exciting treatment for skin cancer for a number of reasons. First, by systematically removing and examining each layer of skin throughout the surgery, the surgeon can be almost certain that all cancer cells are removed. Since the technique is concentrated on the small affected areas, less harm is done to surrounding skin cells. Following the procedure, any reconstructive work can be performed right away.
Because MOHS can be performed under local anesthesia during an office visit, it is a good method for resolving potentially dangerous common skin cancers. While there is some debate about the need for the surgery in relation to the price, MOHS has been shown to be an excellent option for many patients.
Finding a Dermatologist
As MOHS surgery is an exciting development in dermatology, there are many doctors who offer the surgery. However, as with any skin treatment, it is best to go to an experienced and knowledgeable dermatologist. Drs. Diane Walder and Stacy Chimento of the Miami area offers MOHS surgery along with a range of medical and cosmetic dermatology procedures. If you’d like to learn more about the surgery and are looking for excellent care in Miami, call Dr. Walder’s office today at 305-866-2177 to schedule an appointment.