Mohs Surgery and Skin Cancer Screenings
Of all the cancers in our world, skin cancer is the most common. Despite being common, the vast majority of skin cancers are curable with early detection and treatment. Annual skin cancer screenings with our dermatologists can lead to identifying suspicious lesions before they become a serious threat. Subsequent treatment with Mohs surgery can get rid of skin cancer and help you enjoy a healthy life.
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Skin Cancer Screenings
Every adult should get a dermatology skin examination every year to ensure the best chance that any aberrant skin cells are caught and treated early. Individuals with a history of skin cancer or who are at a higher risk of skin cancer should come in every 6 months for a skin cancer screening.
Screening for skin cancer involves a full physical inspection and evaluation of your skin. Many skin cancers are found in hard-to-see places, such as the scalp, behind the ear, in the center of the back, between the toes, even between the legs. We use MetaOptima, an AI enhanced full-body cancer screen, to provide the most accurate dermatology cancer screening possible.
With regular skin cancer screenings, we can locate any cancerous or precancerous lesions and recommend immediate treatment. Skin cancer screenings can detect:
- Actinic Keratosis (AK): a skin lesion that can develop into skin cancer
- Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC): a common skin cancer lesion that can be disfiguring, dangerous, and potentially life threatening
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC): a less common (but still common) skin cancer lesion that can be disfiguring, dangerous, and potentially life threatening
- Melanoma: a less common but serious form of skin cancer that can spread rapidly and may quickly become deadly
- Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC): a rare, aggressive skin cancer that is even more deadly than melanoma
Treating Skin Cancer with Mohs Surgery
If your skin cancer screening leads to a diagnosis of skin cancer, we will put together an immediate treatment plan. In some cases, treatment such as excision, laser therapy, or chemotherapy may be recommended. More often, skin cancer is treated with Mohs surgery.
Mohs micrographic surgery has an extremely high cure rate for skin cancer that is new or recurrent. Mohs treatment makes it possible to remove all cancerous cells while sparing the healthy skin tissue and leaving the smallest possible scar.
The Mohs procedure is performed in one session with alternating stages of surgical excision and lab examination. After surgically removing a thin layer of the skin lesion, the surgeon takes it to the lab. A process involving sectioning, freezing, and dyeing is used to prepare the tissue sample for microscopic examination. The surgeon then examines the edges and underside of the tissue with a microscope. If cancer cells remain, the surgeon identifies their precise location and returns to the patient to surgically remove another tissue layer from that site. This process is repeated until no cancer cells remain. It may take up to several hours for Mohs surgery to completely remove all signs of cancer.
Depending on the size and location of the surgical site, the wound may be left open to heal, closed with stitches, or reconstructed with a skin flap or skin graft. Because Mohs surgery removes only the smallest amount of tissue necessary to achieve results, the aesthetic results are as favorable as possible. Even more importantly, Mohs offers a positive outcome of full skin cancer removal.
Most of the time, Mohs surgery completely eliminates skin cancer. However, new cancer cells may form later, and a history of skin cancer increases this risk. Skin cancer screenings should be continued every 6 months after Mohs surgery to ensure the cancer doesn’t return, and that if it does, it is caught quickly and eliminated.