While some types of skin cancer are among the most treatable forms of the disease, particularly when detected early, they’re still cancers and as such, cause for caution and concern. When you undergo treatment, you want all traces of cancer gone, but that’s sometimes uncertain until testing can confirm the success of your procedure.
Mohs micrographic surgery brings another dimension to skin cancer treatment. Working in layers, with on-site cancer analysis, the Mohs process continues until you’re cancer-free. Mohs surgery is a technical challenge, so it’s important that you select a surgeon with specialized Mohs fellowship training. In San Jose, see Jennifer A. Baron, MD, FAAD, FACMS to ensure the care you need to eliminate your skin tumors.
Conventional skin cancer removal
When you have skin cancer, you likely have two priorities. The first is to be sure all cancer is removed and the second is that the removal process leaves as much healthy tissue behind as possible.
Conventional procedures will excise a suspected cancer along with some surrounding tissue, all of which is sent to a lab for testing. These tests can verify that cancerous cells were indeed cut away, but there’s no assurance that all cancer cells were captured. It depends on the practitioner’s skill and judgement, as well as a bit of luck.
How Mohs micrographic surgery works
The goals of Mohs surgery are twofold. Your Mohs surgeon targets all cancerous cells while saving as much healthy tissue as they can. That’s right, Mohs surgery sets out to match your priorities for cancer treatment.
Dr. Baron removes a thin layer of skin from under the visible tumor area and immediately examines it under a microscope to check for the presence of cancer cells. If cancer cells are found, Dr. Baron repeats the procedure, one layer at a time, until she finds a sample with no abnormal cells.
You’re treated under local anesthetic, so you avoid the risks of general surgical anesthetics. Since the Mohs procedure is potentially long, four hours or more, you may be advised to bring snacks and reading material. Taking samples doesn’t take long, but analyzing them does.
An effective treatment
When it comes to basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma — the two most common skin cancers — Mohs surgery is considered the most effective way to treat these cancers. It’s also the best solution for recurring tumors or when a tumor is expected to persist after removal.
Because Mohs surgery removes as little healthy tissue as possible, it’s suited for places that might suffer from the effects of more aggressive surgery, such as your ears, face, or genitals. Mohs surgery is well-suited for cancerous lesions with irregular or difficult-to-define borders.
A member of the American College of Mohs Surgery, Dr. Baron has nearly 20 years of medical experience, including over 10 years in private practice. When you want the assurance that all malignancy is removed when you have skin cancer, contact Jennifer A. Baron, MD, FAAD, FACMS. You can reach her office by phone or online, so book your consultation now.