Mohs surgery or Mohs micrographic surgery is a well-established technique developed by Dr. Frederic Mohs in the late 1930s. It is considered the best and most effective skin cancer treatment for the two most common forms of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. It has an impressive success rate of up to 99 percent for cancers that haven’t been treated before and 94 percent for cancers that have recurred.
What Does the Procedure Involve?
Mohs surgery is an outpatient procedure in West Dundee that can take hours. The surgeon will administer a local anesthetic and then carefully remove the visible part of the cancer along with a layer of seemingly healthy tissue.
The surgeon will then take the tissue to an on-site laboratory and cut it into thin layers like an onion. They will also color-code the pieces and carefully mark them to record where they came from. They will then examine each piece for cancer cells. If they find cancer cells, they make a note of exactly where they are.
When the surgeon returns to the patient to cut another layer of tissue, they are careful to only take the layer from exactly where they found the cancer cells. That way, they keep the wound as small as possible. When the wound heals, the patient will also have a relatively small scar.
The surgeon takes the new sample back to the lab and examines it for cancer cells. They repeat the process until they get samples that are cancer-free.
Mohs surgery is a painstaking and tedious process that can take hours – but the patient will have the assurance of knowing that the surgeon has removed all of the cancer. During an ordinary excision, by contrast, the surgeon removes the visible tumor and sends it to a laboratory somewhere else. The patient then has to wait a week or two for the lab to report whether or not the surgeon successfully removed all of the cancer.
How Should the Patient Prepare?
Sometime before the skin cancer treatment, the patient should ask their doctor if they need to take antibiotics beforehand if they have a condition like a heart murmur. Similarly, they should ask if they need to discontinue taking blood thinners. Some doctors recommend that a patient stop taking aspirin and similar medications at least a week before the procedure. The patient should also avoid Vitamin E and alcohol for a few days before the surgery.
Since the patient will be given only a local anesthetic, they will not need to fast. They should, therefore, eat a normal breakfast on the day of surgery. Finally, if the procedure is being done on the patient’s face, they should wash off any makeup beforehand.