Mohs Surgery For Skin Cancer Treatment
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and worldwide. But when detected early, it is also the most treatable form of cancer. Specifically, Mohs surgery is widely accepted as the most successful and least invasive technique for removing certain types of skin cancer, with a cure rate of 98 to 99 percent for basal and squamous cell carcinomas.
With our new state-of-the-art facilities and a fully-equipped lab dedicated to Mohs surgery, Scherl Dermatology in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, is committed to consistently exceeding patient expectations by providing comprehensive care with the highest level of full-service skin cancer treatment.
What Are The Types Of Skin Cancer Mohs Surgery Can Treat?
Mohs surgery is considered the gold standard surgical technique for the treatment of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which are the two most common types of skin cancer. Mohs surgery is also occasionally recommended for more aggressive skin cancers such as melanoma. Mohs surgery can be used to treat an early melanoma, but it must be categorized as lentigo maligna melanoma which is a skin cancer that stays close to the surface of the skin for a certain time. Generally, Mohs surgery is ideal for the following situations:
- Skin cancer appears near cosmetically important areas or critical areas with vital function and little tissue beneath (e.g., eyelids, nose, ears, scalp, hands, feet, and genitals)
- Skin cancer was treated and has returned
- Skin cancer is large and aggressive
- Skin lesions have uneven or indistinct edges
How Is Mohs Surgery Performed?
Mohs surgery is a very precise procedure. A dermatologic surgeon will first mark the skin to outline the lesion and to map the affected area, followed by the injection of a local anesthetic into the skin cancer site. The surgeon will then use a scalpel to gently remove the tumor, along with one layer of tissue from around it. The tumor and tissue will be taken for analysis while the patient waits. If cancer is found after the samples have been analyzed under a microscope, an additional layer of tissue will be removed from the exact area where the malignancy was found. This process is repeated until all cancerous tissue has been removed and no more cancer cells are detected.
Mohs surgery, therefore, requires extensive training and skill. The procedure is performed by doctors who are trained to fulfill three crucial roles:
- The surgeon who maps the lesion and removes the layers of cancerous tissue
- The pathologist who sections and analyzes the specimens
- The surgeon who closes and reconstructs the wound
Choosing a highly experienced dermatologist is necessary. Dr. Jennifer Ledon is our resident Mohs surgeon at Scherl Dermatology in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Dr. Ledon is a board-certified dermatologist and fellow-trained Mohs surgeon who has won several awards throughout the course of her training, including the Best Clinicopathologic Case at the American College of Mohs Surgery and the Surgical Skills and Resident Teaching Awards at the University of Miami. She is also trained in dermoscopy, a specialized way of monitoring for skin cancers, as well as complex medical dermatology.
What Are The Benefits Of Mohs Surgery?
It Minimizes Scarring
The layer-by-layer approach of Mohs surgery keeps the incision as small as possible, reducing scarring and promoting faster healing. The technique is also designed to remove the entire tumor while affecting minimal amounts of healthy tissue, resulting in precise results and less skin disfigurement.
It Is A Quick And Efficient Procedure
Because Mohs surgery is performed as a single-visit outpatient procedure done with local anesthesia and with the lab work conducted on-site, the technique proves to be a very efficient and cost-effective treatment for skin cancer.
It Has High Cure Rates
Mohs Surgery offers the highest success rates. Cure rates are:
- Up to 99% for skin cancers that have not been treated before
- Up to 94% for skin cancers that have recurred after previous treatment
It Is Nearly Painless
Apart from the injection of anesthetics to numb the area prior to the surgery, patients will experience very little pain during and after the procedure. Depending on the patient’s preferences, the surgeon can also provide oral medication to help them relax on the day of the procedure. Although minimal, any pain experienced after the surgery can be relieved by over-the-counter medications.
What Is The Recovery Like?
After surgery, we will discuss the options for managing the wound. Depending on the patient’s specific case, choices will include:
- Letting the incision heal on its own
- Stitching the incision closed
- Taking a skin flap or graft to cover or close the wound
- Combining any of the approaches listed above
- Temporarily closing the wound and scheduling reconstructive surgery for later. A Mohs surgeon can coordinate the repairing of the wound with other specialists such as plastic surgeons, hand surgeons, and oculoplastic surgeons.
The surgical site will be covered with a bandage which should be worn for 24-48 hours. Patients may experience discomfort, redness, or swelling after the procedure, but these issues are temporary and should improve within a week. Antibiotics will be prescribed to help prevent infection and instructions on how to clean the wound will be provided. The application of ice packs is typically recommended.
If the wound was stitched closed, sutures are usually removed 5-10 days after surgery. To allow the wound to heal and to prevent bleeding, it is recommended to limit vigorous physical activity and excessive bending for one week after the surgery is performed.
The Importance Of Skin Checks
Mohs surgery patients should commit to regular follow-up examinations with their dermatologist since they are at increased risk of developing additional skin cancer and pre-cancers. Examination of the surgical site is also necessary in order to monitor the recurrence of any treated skin cancer.
However, patients should not wait for a cancer diagnosis in order to have regular skin checks. Early detection and treatment will always benefit you. Skin checks are recommended for everyone, particularly those who have:
- Abnormal moles and sunspots
- A history of frequent and extensive sun exposure
- A family history of skin cancer
At Scherl Dermatology, we urge patients to have routine skin checks to help facilitate a preventative approach to skin cancer management. Detecting skin cancer only takes a few minutes and a screening by a dermatologist can save your life.
We can also guide you on how to perform a skin self-exam (a head-to-toe exam performed monthly at home). During this exam, you must look for any potential malignancies in the form of moles or marks on the skin that fall under any of the following “A, B, C, D, E” categories:
Schedule A Skin Check Today
Caring for your skin is not only key for your self-esteem, but more importantly, for your safety and health. Get a skin check at Scherl Dermatology so you can be armed and confident with the knowledge necessary to keep your skin healthy, beautiful, and protected. To learn more about skin cancer or to schedule a consultation, contact our Englewood Cliffs, NJ office.
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