The two most common types of skin cancer today are Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Basil Cell Carcinoma is the most common and frequently occurring type of cancer. It occurs as the result of uncontrolled growth of basal cells. Due to the fact that BCCs grow at a slow rate, they are often times curable and cause minimal damage to the body and skin. However, it is important to catch it early on and get treatment as soon as possible to obtain such a favorable outcome. Squamous Cell Carcinoma is also very common. It forms as a result of abnormal growth of squamous cells. Like basic cell carcinoma, it is often 100% curable if caught and treated early.
Is Mohs Surgery Right for Me?
Mohs surgery, also known as Mohs Micrographic Surgery, is considered the most effective technique for treating these two types of skin cancers. During the procedure, cancer-containing skin layers are progressively removed. This process is repeated until only cancer-free tissue remains. Dermatologists aim to minimize the damage to the healthy areas surrounding the cancer, while also removing as much of the cancerous tissue as possible.
The standard surgery for cancer removal is called local excision. This involves removing not only the cancerous material but a small portion of the surrounding healthy tissue as well. Mohs surgery is an improved technique, preserving as much healthy skin as feasible. Surgeons are also able to verify that no cancer cells are present during the time of surgery. As a result, patients are less likely to need additional treatments or surgery in the future.
Mohs surgery is particularly useful in certain circumstances. These situations include cancers that have a high risk of re-occurrence. Additionally, as stated previously, a major benefit of Mohs surgery is the preservation of skin tissue. This is crucial for areas of the body like the eyes, ears, nose, feet, genitals, mouth, and hands. Sometimes the border of cancerous tissue is hard to define. In this instance, Mohs surgery is also a good option. Individuals suffering from large and aggressive cancers would also be good candidates for this procedure due to the ability to verify the elimination of cancer cells during surgery.
How to Prepare for Mohs Surgery
Surgery can be nerve-wracking for most people. There are ways to prepare ahead of time to alleviate stress. Below is a list of steps that you can take to be better prepared for your Mohs Surgery.
- Selecting a Mohs Surgeon – Most dermatologists learn about Mohs Surgery through medical training, and are therefore able to perform the procedure. However, some surgeons have completed special training specifically within the Mohs field in order to become more knowledgeable. It is important to ask your surgeon about their experience and qualifications regarding Mohs surgery.
- Inform your surgeon about any medications you are taking – It is vital to inform your surgeon of any medications and supplements that you are currently taking. Certain medications and even supplements can act as blood thinners, increasing your chance of bleeding after surgery.
- Clear your schedule – There is no way to know how long a Mohs Surgery will take. Generally, the procedure is completed in under 4 hours. However, there is still a chance your surgery could extend for the duration of an entire day. Most surgeons will advise their patients to clear their schedule for the whole day.
- Wear comfortable clothing – It is also important to wear comfortable clothing to your surgery. It Is best to dress in layers. That way you can easily adjust to the temperature of the room.
- Bring items to pass the time – Like any other medical procedure, one can expect to spend some time waiting. Books, magazines, and electronics are useful in passing time.
What to expect:
Unless the location of the cancer requires the removal of a gown, the patient will be able to stay gowned. In preparation for the surgery, a nurse will inject the affected area with anesthesia. This will numb the skin so that the patient will not feel the surgery taking place. A scalpel is then used to remove a layer of visible cancerous skin, along with a thin layer beneath it. The surgeon will then take the tissue to his laboratory for analysis. You can expect to wait around an hour for each such analysis. During this time, magazines or books will come in handy to pass the time. Using the bathroom and eating during the procedure is permitted, as long as the patient does not leave the office. If the surgeon identifies that cancer still remains, the process is repeated until the removed tissue sample is cancer-free.
If you are looking for one of the best dermatologists in the area, specializing in Mohs Surgery, Lady Lake Dermatology & Mohs Surgery is the place for you. Dr Gurgen is an award-winning Mohs Surgeon who provides optimal outcomes with as little scarring as possible!