Cancer: the word that no one wants to hear from their doctor. Skin cancer tends to cause less concern than most other types of cancer because it’s slow-moving and has a low mortality rate, but it’s still a condition that can become very serious and it needs to be treated promptly and effectively.
Because there are several types of skin cancer and each case is unique, there are multiple treatment methods for skin cancer. They can range from simple topical medications to minimally invasive surgeries. One specialized treatment is a procedure called Mohs micrographic surgery.
If you have skin cancer, when might your dermatologist recommend Mohs surgery and why? Our Mohs surgeons and skin cancer specialists at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta are weighing in.
What Is Mohs Surgery?
Mohs surgery is a unique micrographic procedure for removing skin cancer. The aim is to remove all the cancerous tissue with great certainty but while removing as little healthy tissue as possible.
During the procedure, your surgeon will remove the cancerous lesion layer by layer. With each layer, they will examine the excision under a microscope using specialized dyes to see the cancerous cells. If there are cancerous cells at the border of the excision, it means there are more cancer cells they haven’t removed. In this case, your surgeon will remove another layer in that area. They will continue this process until they can confidently see that they have removed all the cancerous tissue.
What Types of Skin Cancer are Most Often Treated with Mohs Surgery?
There are three main types of skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Mohs surgery is primarily used for basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma.
This is because those two types of skin cancer grow contiguously. This means that every cancer cell is attached to another cancer cell, so we can tell if we’ve removed all the cancerous cells by seeing whether there are cancerous cells on the microscope slide. That allows Mohs surgeons to reliably determine whether they have removed all the skin cancer cells.
Melanoma is more difficult to treat with Mohs surgery because it was only more recently when researchers developed dyes that would accurately show melanoma cancer cells. As a result, Mohs surgery is sometimes used to treat melanomas that are in the earliest stages, but even for these types of melanomas, other treatments may be a better fit for your treatment.
What Makes Mohs Surgery Ideal for Certain Skin Cancer?
There are several circumstances that may make Mohs skin cancer surgery the right choice for your treatment. For example, Mohs surgery is extremely thorough and precise. It may be recommended if you have skin cancer that has repeatedly returned or has not responded as well to other treatments.
Mohs surgery is also particularly helpful for skin cancers that are in highly visible areas like the face. The goal of Mohs surgery is not only to remove cancer as thoroughly as possible but also to do it while removing as little additional tissue as possible so it minimizes your post-surgical scarring. That is especially important for areas of skin that are highly visible.
How Do I Know if Mohs Skin Cancer Removal Surgery is Right for Me?
There are many factors that affect your skin cancer treatment and determine which treatments may be the best fit for you. Ultimately, a board-certified dermatologist with a lot of experience performing Mohs surgery needs to assess your condition and decide the best way to remove and treat your skin cancer.
If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer and would like to discuss your treatment options or if you would like a skin cancer screening, call Dermatology Associates of Atlanta today to schedule your appointment. Remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more skin health tips.