MOHS surgery, also called MOHS micrographic surgery, is a surprisingly old procedure used to treat some types of skin cancer. Even though the procedure was first developed in the 1930s, it is considered the gold standard for treating the two most common forms of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
What Does the Procedure Involve?
MOHS surgery is a methodical and carefully performed procedure. The patient will be given a local anesthetic, and our surgeon will remove the visible cancerous tissue surrounded by a border of apparently healthy tissue. The tissue will then be carefully examined under a microscope. Our specialist will make a note of the location of any cancer cells. This process will be repeated until a sample with no cancerous cells is found.
What are the Advantages?
MOHS surgery comes with many benefits. First of all, neither the patient nor the doctor has to wait for the results. During a conventional excision, the tissue sample is sent to a pathology lab, and they perform the analysis. By contrast, a MOHS surgeon performs their own analysis, and the patient can go home knowing they are cancer-free.
MOHS surgery boasts an impressive cure rate of over 98 percent for both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. It is an outpatient procedure performed under a local anesthetic, and the patient typically only needs one treatment.
This surgery reduces the risks of scarring and disfigurement. By methodically removing the cancer in layers and examining it, our surgeon reduces the amount of healthy tissue that is removed. A surgeon performing a conventional excision has to guess where the cancer ends, so they tend to remove a fairly large margin of healthy tissue along with the cancer. MOHS surgery is thus the treatment of choice for people with skin cancer on their face, hand or other sensitive areas.
MOHS surgery can be used on patients who have undergone radiation therapy. It can also be performed on patients with compromised immune systems.
Can MOHS Surgery Be Used on Melanoma?
Yes. In the past, surgeons had hesitated to use MOHS surgery on melanoma, for the latter metastasizes far more readily than other skin cancers, and there was always the possibility of missing a microscopic cancer cell.
In recent years, however, researchers developed special stains called immunohistochemistry (IHC) stains that readily highlight melanoma cells and make it easier for surgeons to spot them. The procedure can now be used on those melanomas that haven’t spread to other parts of the body.
We provide MOHS surgery among our many dermatological and cosmetic procedures at Dermatology Consultants of South Florida, located in both Sunrise and Coral Springs. Contact us today to schedule your first appointment and learn more.