Mohs Surgery at Mohs Skin Cancer Center
Since the 1980s, the most successful procedure for removing non-melanoma skin cancers has been Mohs Surgery. With the full name of Mohs Micrographic Surgery, the Mohs technique was originated by Dr. Frederick Mohs, a general surgeon from Wisconsin during the 1930s. Since then it has been modified to become the procedure that was started in the 1980s and continues today. The goal of Mohs surgery is to completely eradicate and remove non-melanoma skin cancers, while at the same time minimizing the amount of normal tissue that must be sacrificed.
The area in which the skin cancer is found is numbed using a local anesthetic. The visible tumor is debulked (or scraped) with a curette, an instrument that does not tear normal tissue. Your Trillium Creek Mohs surgeon then removes 1 mm around the tumor and the tissue sample is sent to our in-house laboratory for processing. It takes only 5-10 minutes for your Mohs surgeon to remove the first sample, at which time you will be directed to the waiting room with a bandage over your wound.
Processing the sample takes about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Once the sample has been processed, it is examined under a microscope to check multiple sections, making sure all of the cancerous cells have been removed. If cancerous cells are still present, your Mohs surgeon will remove more tissue until the margins are clear upon examination. Once the margins are clear and no visible cancerous cells remain, the wound is sutured and dressed. You will then be provided with complete home care instructions. The average time spent at the clinic by a Mohs patient is 2-6 hours, depending on the case.
Mohs surgery patients should take it easy for a day and refrain from strenuous physical activity or anything that would increase blood pressure or heart rate. This will help control bleeding and swelling which helps to control pain. Most patients resume their normal routine within a day. Forty-eight hours after surgery, you will be instructed to remove the dressing, clean the wound with soap, water and peroxide, apply Vaseline and rebandage the area.
Within a week you must return to our office to have the sutures removed. Because this surgical method removes the smallest amount of tissue possible, scars are minimized with Mohs surgery. Also, more importantly, all cancerous cells have been removed.
Ninety percent of Mohs surgery for skin cancer is on the face, with half of those operations being on the nose and ears. If there is a need to excise into the cartilage of the nose or ears, the entire area is anesthetized. People are so comfortable that they fall asleep on the operating table. The operation site may be slightly painful once local numbing wears off; however, over-the-counter pain relievers are usually all that is needed to control any discomfort in recovery time.
What Makes Mohs So Effective?
With typical surgical excisions, the pathologist slices, or “breadloafs”, the specimens vertically, like cutting a loaf of bread. Using this technique, the pathologist is only sampling the outer margins of the tissue, so only around 1 percent of the specimen is being examined. With Mohs surgery, 100 percent of the specimen is examined, which explains why Mohs surgery results in much higher skin cancer cure rates than other forms of surgery.
Your Health Matters to Us at Trillium Creek
Mohs surgery is designed to treat skin cancer by sparing the greatest amount of healthy tissue while eliminating cancer cells. At Trillium Creek Dermatology & Surgery, we’ve developed our skin cancer and Mohs treatment program to help patients preserve their health and achieve the best outcomes possible.
The Mohs Skin Cancer Center is headed by Dr. Patrick M. Killian, M.D. and offers state-of-the-art treatment for two of the most common forms of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Mohs micrographic surgery performed by the Trillium Creek staff has been found to be highly curative — even if the skin cancer has been previously treated.
If you’ve been diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, call Trillium Creek Dermatology & Surgery at 330.725.0569 today to learn more about our skin cancer and Mohs treatment program.
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