Mohs surgery, also known as Mohs micrographic surgery, is considered one of the most effective procedures for treating basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the two most common forms of skin cancer. This is a surprisingly old technique; Dr. Frederic Mohs developed it back in the 1930s. Nonetheless, it has a cure rate of 98 percent or better for BCC and SCC – higher than any other treatment.
What Does the Procedure Involve?
Mohs surgery resembles a standard excision procedure in that our doctor removes the tumor plus a margin of apparently healthy tissue. The main difference is that after excising the growth, it is then examined closely under a microscope. Dr. Helton will make note of any that she finds. The patient will go home and wait for the results.
If Dr. Helton finds cancer cells in the margins, she will call the patient back into the operating room and remove another layer of tissue and then take that back to the laboratory for analysis. This process will continue until Dr. Helton gets a sample or group of samples that is completely free of cancer cells. Mohs surgery thus has the large advantage of greatly reducing the chances of the carcinoma recurring. It also reduces the amount of tissue that needs to be removed.
Who is a Good Candidate for Mohs Surgery?
Mohs surgery is considered the treatment of choice for patients with BCC and/or SCC. Since less tissue is removed during Mohs surgery than with other procedures, it is especially recommended for patients with cancers on the face, hands, genitals, feet or ears.
Patients whose cancers have recurred or are likely to recur are also good candidates for Mohs surgery. Patients with large or aggressive cancers or patients with cancers that have poorly defined borders are also good candidates for Mohs Surgery. This type of surgery can also be used on patients with scar tissue in the treatment area or who have undergone radiation therapy.
Can Mohs Surgery Be Used to Treat Melanoma?
Yes. That wasn’t the case in the past. Until relatively recently, it was hard for a surgeon to spot and identify melanoma cells, which are more likely to metastasize than other types of skin cancer cells.
Recently, however, scientists have developed new types of stains called immunohistochemistry (IHC) stains. They contain substances that stick to the melanocytes or pigment cells where the melanoma develops. IHC stains, therefore, make it much easier to spot melanoma cells with a microscope. This type of skin cancer surgery can therefore now be performed on at least some types of melanomas.
We provide multiple types of skin cancer treatment at Steele Creek Dermatology, including Mohs surgery. To find out if this type of treatment is right for you, contact our office in Charlotte today to schedule your first appointment.