Posted: Monday, August 14, 2023

Mohs Surgery: A Cutting-Edge Approach to Skin Cancer Treatment

Skin cancer, a prevalent and potentially life-threatening condition, affects millions of people worldwide. As advancements in medical science continue to evolve, so do the treatment options available to patients. One such cutting-edge approach to combating skin cancer is Mohs surgery. Renowned for its high cure rates and tissue preservation, Mohs surgery has become a game-changer in the field of dermatology.

Mohs micrographic surgery, named after its inventor Dr. Frederic Mohs, is a specialized surgical technique primarily used to treat two common types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). It is especially beneficial for cancers located in critical areas such as the face, ears, nose and hands, where tissue preservation and cosmetically pleasing results are most important. “Unlike traditional excision methods, Mohs surgery involves the systematic removal of cancerous tissue in layers, with immediate examination under a microscope. This enables the surgeon to precisely target and remove cancer cells while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible,” board-certified and fellowship-trained dermatologist Dr. Ryan Skinner from Blount Memorial Physicians Group – Dermatology and Plastic Surgery explained.

“The uniqueness of Mohs surgery lies in its meticulous approach,” Skinner added. Local anesthesia is used before the procedure. The surgeon removes the tumor along with a thin layer of surrounding tissue, which is immediately processed, frozen, sliced into sections and prepared by a skilled Mohs histotechnician. A pathologist with specialized training examines the cells under the microscope to determine if cancer cells are still detected in the margins. If so, the surgeon returns to the specified area to remove another layer of tissue. “This process is repeated until no cancer cells remain, ensuring the complete eradication of the cancer,” Skinner said. Once the cancer has been removed, the surgeon closes the wound. Various techniques for reconstruction, if needed, might include sutures, skin grafts or a flap to achieve optimal cosmetic results.

Mohs surgery has a cure rate of up to 99 percent for certain types of skin cancer. The precise targeting of cancerous tissue makes it crucial for cancers located near vital structures or aesthetically sensitive areas. By preserving as much healthy tissue as possible, Mohs surgery leads to superior cosmetic results compared to traditional excision procedures. Real-time examination of the cells provides the surgeon with immediate detection of cancerous cells, facilitating their complete removal during the procedure. “Because Mohs surgery is so thorough, the risk of cancer recurrence is significantly decreased,” Skinner said.

“If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer and have not been offered Mohs micrographic surgery as a treatment option, ask your doctor if this treatment could help you. It is the gold standard for managing certain types of cancer,” Skinner added.  

For more information on Mohs surgery or to schedule an appointment, contact Blount Memorial Physicians Group – Dermatology and Plastic Surgery at 865-238-6400.

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