Skin cancer is a frightening reality for many. It has the potential to leave scars, deform features, spread to other organs, and even threaten one’s life if left untreated.
This serious medical condition occurs when cells on the surface of the skin grow abnormally. Often caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation, the three main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma vs. squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. These diseases, which usually manifest through new moles and skin growths, require removal to prevent complications and ensure treatment success. Mohs surgery, in particular, has become one of the most popular and effective treatments for skin cancer in the modern era.
How Mohs Surgery Works
Mohs surgery is “The Gold Standard” for treating different skin cancers. During the procedure, the surgeon will remove thin layers of cancerous tissue from the affected area and check each layer under a microscope for any remaining cancer cells. By carefully mapping and examining the specimens, Mohs surgeons can detect and monitor skin cancer, thus, ensuring complete removal of the tumor with minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
Mohs Surgery’s Benefits: Why It’s One of the Best Skin Cancer Treatments
The many advantages of Mohs surgery over other techniques include:
1. Treats Several Types of Skin Cancers
Aside from basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma, Mohs surgery may address rarer forms of skin cancer. These include Merkel cell carcinoma, extramammary Paget’s disease, and dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans.
Doctors recommend Mohs surgery for skin cancers with the following characteristics:
Large, aggressive, or both
Emerge in an area with an existing scar tissue
Have borders that are difficult to delineate
Recurred (returned) following previous treatments
Found in areas with thin tissue, such as the mouth, nose, ears, eye area, hands, feet, and genitals
Affects a patient who has a weakened immune system
2. Minimizes the Risk of Scarring and Deformation
In a world where people dream of perfect skin, scars can cause unwanted feelings of insecurity, especially if the marks are on the face or a visible area of the body.
Since Mohs surgeons remove the thinnest possible layers of skin, the incisions are smaller compared to other invasive methods, therefore, resulting in better cosmetic results. Although, keep in mind that the incisions vary depending on the treatment area’s size.
Ultimately, the earlier you get diagnosed and receive treatment, the higher your chances of reducing scarring and preventing deformation.
3. Reduces the Possibility of Cancer Returning
Mohs surgery has been people’s treatment of choice for recurrent basal cell carcinoma since the 1900s. Because this procedure uses an incredibly precise technique to remove and examine malignant cells, it offers the lowest skin cancer recurrence rates (from 0% to 2.6%) compared to cryotherapy (7.5%), electrodesiccation and curettage (27%), and other options.
One of the top benefits of Mohs surgery is that it’s more comfortable compared to other surgical skin cancer treatments.
Performed under local anesthesia – you won’t feel a thing! Again, since the procedure is precise and removes the cancerous tissue exclusively (no deep “excavations” involved), you may feel some pressure as your doctor works, but the surgery itself is pain-free. Recovery time is minimal, and any minor discomfort after surgery is manageable with over-the-counter medicine.
5. No Groggy Feeling After Surgery
Local anesthesia is safer than general anesthesia, requires a shorter recovery time, and provides more control over the experience. As such, you don’t have to worry about feeling dazed and disoriented following surgery.
6. An Outpatient Procedure
Removing the first specimen only takes a couple of minutes. However, examining the collected tissue can take an hour or two to ensure the complete removal of cancerous cells. During this time, you and your family can rest comfortably in the waiting room. You may want to bring some reading materials to pass the time, and make sure your phone’s battery percentage is sufficient for the day. You may go home after reviewing your results with your doctor.
7. Boasts the Highest Cure Rate
Mohs surgery has an exceptionally high cure rate for squamous and basal cell carcinomas in high-risk locations, including the face. To be specific, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, Mohs surgery has a 99% cure rate, whereas standard excisions have a cure rate between 93 to 95%. The difference may not be extreme, but remember that Mohs surgery also has a lower recurrence rate.
8. Mohs Surgeons Undergo Extensive Training
Buckeye Dermatology’s Mohs surgeons completed training at some of the leading institutions in the United States with hands-on direction from renowned instructors. Our Mohs surgeons have unparalleled experience in skin cancer removal and treatment for the best possible outcomes, both cosmetically and clinically.
By delivering low recurrence rates and high cure rates, Mohs surgery is one of the most cost-effective skin cancer treatments available. Plus, since Mohs surgery is typically an outpatient procedure, there are no additional hospital or unit fees to worry about.
The overall cost of Mohs surgery at Buckeye Dermatology also varies depending on factors such as cancer’s severity, the operation’s length, and the patient’s insurance coverage. You can contact us to schedule a consultation and receive an accurate breakdown of the costs and fees.
Disadvantages of Mohs Surgery
As with any cancer treatment, Mohs may not be suitable for all patients. For example, other techniques may produce better outcomes for small, superficial, low-risk cancers, which often respond to less invasive procedures like superficial radiation therapy.
Furthermore, although Mohs surgery may treat melanoma in situ on the scalp, face, and ears, it may be ineffective for other types of melanoma.
Complications can also occur, particularly if an inexperienced surgeon performs Mohs. Enlarged scars, nerve damage, as well as cosmetic or functional abnormalities are some of the possible issues that may arise.
Avoid unwanted complications and experience the benefits outlined above by choosing a Mohs surgeon with proper training and experience.
Is Mohs Right for You?
Mohs surgery offers the highest potential for preservation of normal tissue while providing the greatest chance to remove all affected areas. At Buckeye Dermatology, our skin cancer experts have years of experience performing this powerful procedure. Is Mohs surgery better than excision for your unique case? What about your other options? Contact us today at 602-754-6075 to find out which skin cancer treatment is right for you.