Mohs micrographic surgery, an advanced treatment for skin cancer, offers the highest potential for cure. As the most exact and precise method of tumor removal, this procedure minimizes the chance for re-growth. Clinical studies have shown that the cure rate for Mohs surgery is the highest of all treatments for skin cancer with up to a 99 percent, 5 year cure rate, even if other forms of treatment have failed. It has also been proven extremely effective in the treatment of superficial malignant melanomas and other rare forms of skin tumors.
At Soderstrom Skin Institute, we are proud to offer this highly effective skin cancer treatment. Our physicians can administer the procedure; performing all acts of surgery, pathology and reconstruction. Relying on the accuracy of a microscope to track and ensure removal of skin cancer down to its roots, surgeons can precisely identify and remove the entire tumor. This state-of-the-art procedure allows dermatologic surgeons, trained in Mohs surgery, to see beyond the visible disease.
When is Mohs surgery needed?
- The cancer was treated previously and recurred
- The cancer is in a difficult area where it is important to preserve healthy tissue for maximum functional and cosmetic result, such as eyelids, nose, ears, and lips
- The cancer is large
- The edges of the cancer cannot be clearly defined
- The cancer grows rapidly or uncontrollably
How does treatment work?
The Mohs process includes a specific sequence of surgery and pathological investigation. At this time the surgeon examines the removed tissue for evidence of extended cancer roots. Mohs micrographic surgery is performed under local anesthetic. Once the anesthesia takes effect, the patient will not feel any pain during the procedure.
Mohs surgeon tracks the path of the tumor using two key tools:
- A map of the surgical site
- A microscope
Once the tumor is removed, Mohs surgeons:
- Remove an additional, thin layer of tissue from the tumor site
- Create a “map” or drawing of the removed tissue to be used as a guide to the precise location of any remaining cancer cells
- Microscopically examine the removed tissue thoroughly to check for evidence of remaining cancer cells.
If any of the sections contain cancer cells, Mohs surgeons:
- Return to the specific area of the tumor site as indicated by the map
- Remove only another thin layer of tissue from the specific area within each section where cancer cells were detected
- Microscopically examine the newly removed tissue for additional cancer cells.
If the microscopic analysis still shows evidence of disease, the process continues, layer by layer, until the cancer is completely gone.
There is always a reasonable measure of possible complications and risks, such as allergic reactions, anesthetic risk, scarring, infection, bleeding, and nerve damage (both motor and sensory). Final results depend a great deal on the depth of the cancer, and the amount of nerve, muscle, and other nearby tissue that needs removed in order to thoroughly remove the cancer.
Post surgical results and management are individualized to achieve the best results and to preserve functional capabilities and maximize aesthetics. Our Mohs surgeon at Soderstrom Skin Institute is also trained in reconstructive surgery, and will usually perform the reconstructive procedure necessary to repair the wound. Some cancers are found in difficult areas like the ears, nose, or eyelids; in such cases our board certified plastic surgeon will assist with the procedure so the patient has the best final cosmetic result. A small wound may be allowed to heal on its own, or the wound may be closed in a straight line with stitches. Other surgical defects may be best repaired using a skin graft or a flap of adjacent skin.
To schedule an appointment with a board certified dermatologist at Soderstrom Skin Institute, call 1-888-970-7546.