Mohs micrographic surgery remains the most effective method for eliminating skin cancer, namely basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). During this treatment, the cancerous portion(s) of skin is targeted, and thin layers of tissue are gradually removed until the tumor can be fully extracted. This procedure aims to preserve as much of the healthy tissue as possible while curing the patients of their skin cancer.
While Mohs micrographic surgery yields a 99% cure rate, it isn’t the only method for treating and curing skin cancer. Additionally, the procedure might not be right for all patients, depending on their medical history, the location and severity of their skin cancer, and other factors. Let’s discuss what makes someone a good candidate for Mohs micrographic surgery.
Different types of skin cancer develop at different rates. Most BCCs grow slowly, with SCCs developing only slightly faster. In rare instances, these tumors can develop faster than usual, which increases the risk of cancer spreading to other parts of the body. For patients with aggressive skin cancer, Mohs micrographic surgery might be the best option for stopping cancer in its tracks.
Unfortunately, getting rid of skin cancer once doesn’t preclude it from coming back again. Those who’ve had skin cancer in the past are at greater risk of developing it again either in the same area as before or elsewhere. So, while Mohs surgery boasts an extremely high cure rate, it’s not infallible. The good news is that Mohs micrographic surgery is still highly effective for those with recurring skin cancer, with a 94% cure rate in these patients.
Treating cancer can do a number on one’s body, and skin cancer is no different. However, Mohs micrographic surgery aims to do as little damage to the patient’s non-cancerous skin as possible, making it a good option for those who want to maintain their skin’s healthy appearance after surgery. When skin cancer affects areas like the face, hands, scalp, or genitalia, preserving the maximum amount of healthy tissue is important for both cosmetic and functional reasons.
Many instances of BCC and SCC are easily identifiable, making them easy to diagnose and remove via a Mohs surgical procedure or another method of excision. In some cases, though, these tumors lack clear borders. This presents more of a challenge when determining the length and depth of skin cancer.
Mohs micrographic surgery is especially useful in scenarios such as these, as the procedure allows the surgeon and medical staff to closely view portions of the tumor under a power microscope as layers of skin are removed. In doing so, the surgeon can gradually determine the overall size, shape, and depth of the tumor and remove all traces of it. The surgeon may also use palpation (i.e. feeling the tumor with their hands) to get an initial impression of the tumor before surgery.
Ultimately, your dermatologist will help you determine whether or not Mohs micrographic surgery is right for you, taking into account your medical history, current health, personal goals, and other important factors. They will also let you know about other skin cancer treatment options so you can do what’s best for your skin.