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Mohs Surgery – is it Dangerous?

One in five Americans will have a basal cell carcinoma in their lifetime. Skin cancer is common, dangerous, and visible. It is a very real problem that all patients should keep in mind. However, when detected and treated early, the prognosis is good for most skin cancers. Cleveland area patients near Mayfield Heights, Akron, and Mentor, OH have turned to the team at Allied Dermatology and Skin Surgery for skin cancer treatment including Mohs surgery.

What is Mohs surgery?

Mohs micrographic surgery was developed in 1938 by Frederic E. Mohs, a general surgeon. This specialized procedure is microscopically controlled to treat skin cancer. Tissue is removed a layer at a time and examined separately. As the layer is removed, it is examined under a microscope to search for cancer cells. If cancerous cells are still detected, the next layer is removed. The process repeats until the tissue comes back clear. The surgeon only removes the necessary tissue with small margins, so the healthy tissue remains intact. The procedure is a safe, efficient method to only excise the cancerous tissue.

Mohs surgery is often performed in high-risk areas where there is little extra skin. This includes the face, ears, hands, feet, and genitalia. Mohs surgery removes the skin cancer while preserving the healthy skin. The tumor is mapped out, the margins are examined, and the tumor is removed until all margins are negative. You leave knowing the cancer has been completely excised. Mohs surgery has a cure rate of 97-99 percent, making it a very successful treatment for skin cancer.
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Is Mohs surgery safe?

When patients hear the word “surgery,” they may wonder if Mohs surgery is dangerous. Mohs surgery is on the rise with good reason. With the lowest recurrence rates, high cure rates, and the best cosmetic reconstruction results, it is often the best option for skin cancer treatment in high-risk areas. Performed by a formally trained Mohs surgeon, Mohs is a precise, effective method for eliminating skin cancers. It can be used to treat some forms of melanoma as well.

Traditional excision involves removing a tissue sample and sending it to an off-site laboratory. Patients must wait days for their results. For Mohs surgery, the lab work is performed on site. Patients have the benefit of having the procedure done in a single visit and knowing the cancer has been successfully removed. Mohs surgery has the highest cure rate of any skin cancer treatment. Other methods have the risk of the cancer recurring due to undetected growth under the skin’s surface.

Skin Surgery may recommend Mohs micrographic surgery

If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, one of our experienced dermatologists at Allied Dermatology and Skin Surgery may recommend Mohs micrographic surgery.

Mohs micrographic surgery involves four steps.

  • Surgical removal
  • Mapping of the tissue as well as freezing, cutting, and staining the tissue
  • Microscopic analysis
  • Possible reconstruction of the area

Using local anesthetic and a small scalpel, your dermatologist safely removes the visible cancer with only minimal margins. In general excisions, a 4-6mm margin of tissue is removed. With Mohs surgery, the margins are 1-1.5mm to preserve the healthy tissue. Once the first layer of tissue is excised, the dermatologist maps out the cancer and evaluates it. The tissue is evaluated to determine if the margins are clear.

In some cases, the patient is lucky enough to have the entire tumor removed in a single pass. However, if there is cancer remaining in any section, the dermatologic surgeon will remove the next layer of tissue in just that area where the tumor remains. The areas where the margins were clear will not have any more tissue removed. This layer of tissue is mapped out and evaluated. The steps are repeated as often as necessary until the margins are completely clear and the cancer has been eliminated. Closure and cosmetic reconstruction are performed to give the most pleasing result possible.

Skin cancer is often treatable when caught early. Check your skin monthly and see a dermatologist if you discover any new or changing spots on your skin. If you live near Mayfield Heights, Akron, or Mentor, OH, contact the team at Allied Dermatology and Skin Surgery for your appointment today. Call 1-866-337-6631.

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