Skin cancer can be frightening when it occurs on the face, especially on the eyes, ears, nose or lips. Fortunately both Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma – the most common skin cancers – can be treated with a microscopically controlled technique: Mohs surgery.
Named after the inventor Dr. Frederic Mohs, this type of surgery uses a microscope to evaluate the removed tissue immediately, while the patient is waiting, to ensure that all the tumor is removed.
Understanding Mohs Surgery
Mohs surgery begins like a regular excision with sterile preparation of the skin and local anesthesia of the area. However, instead of excising the skin cancer with a standard wide margin of normal skin to ensure that all “roots” are removed, the Mohs surgeon takes only a very small margin and applies a temporary dressing. While the patient is waiting, usually within one hour, the on-site lab prepares microscope- slides of the tumor and the surgeon can scrutinize the tissue sections for the presence of tumor extensions or “tumor roots.” If no roots are found, the defect can be closed with sutures. If however the tumor extends towards the deep or lateral margins, the surgeon returns to the patient to remove additional tissue. This process is repeated until the tumor is completely removed.
What are the Benefits of Mohs Surgery?
Studies have shown that there is an extremely low rate of recurrence after Mohs surgery when compared to other treatments. The reason for this is, that with Mohs surgery 100% of the removed tissue is evaluated to ensure complete tumor removal.
Because only a minimal margin of normal skin is removed, the defect, which is created during Mohs surgery, is much smaller than when using a standard local excision. This helps to preserve the function of affected tissues such as the eyelids or lips. And in addition, a smaller wound defect usually results in a smaller and less noticeable scar for the patient.
Ask Us About Mohs Surgery
If you are concerned about a suspicious skin lesion, especially if it has been bleeding, it is recommended that you see a dermatologist for an evaluation. If a biopsy confirms the presence of a skin cancer. an excision may be needed, and if the lesion is on the face, the hands, feet or shins, Mohs surgery is usually recommended. The dermatologic exam can be done at each of our four offices in Norwood, Foxboro or Franklin. The Mohs surgery is performed only at the surgical office in Norwood at Carnegie Row.