One in five Americans will develop a skin cancer in their lifetimes – and many of them will be treated with a specialized procedure called Mohs surgery. With an ability to remove the entire cancer while preserving healthy tissue and producing the smallest possible wound, the Mohs micrographic surgical technique is widely accepted as the most precise and effective way to treat skin cancer on the face.
Types of skin cancer
There are a variety of different types of skin cancers, but they all develop due to excessive exposure to the sun. An extremely versatile technique, Mohs surgery can successfully treat the vast majority of skin cancers, including:
Basal cell carcinoma. The most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinomas are rarely fatal, but can be highly disfiguring if left unattended. The lesions tend to occur in sun-exposed areas of the face and body. In some cases, they may appear as sores that seem to get better, but then reappear and may begin to bleed.
Squamous cell carcinoma. The second most common form of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma is most likely to develop on sun exposed regions of the face and body. Early symptoms may include a firm, red nodule or a flat lesion with crusting or scaliness on the surface.
Melanoma. The least common form of skin cancer is melanoma. It only comprises about two percent of all skin cancers, but it’s responsible for the vast majority of skin cancer deaths in America. It can form anywhere on the body and may develop along normal skin or within a previously normal mole. To detect melanoma, it’s important to be aware of the ABCDEs of the condition:
- Asymmetry. Asymmetry is a warning sign for melanoma. If you divide a malignant lesion in half with an imaginary line, the two halves will not match.
- Border. Most benign lesions have clean and even borders. If your mole has irregular or uneven edges, it may be a sign of early melanoma.
- Color. Benign moles tend to be one shade of brown, while melanomas contain different shades of brown, black, white, blue or red.
- Diameter. Melanomas commonly grow to be larger in diameter than a pencil’s eraser, though they may be smaller when they are first diagnosed.
- Evolving. Benign moles do not evolve – they stay the same over time. If your mole starts to change in any way, it should definitely be evaluated by a dermatologist.
An overview of Mohs surgery
With a cure rate of nearly 99 percent for most types of skin cancer, Mohs micrographic surgery is the gold standard approach for removing cancerous lesions. The procedure is most commonly performed by a dermatopathologist, a medical doctor who specializes in dermatology and pathology. During surgery, the physician will remove the cancerous layers of skin and tissue. He or she will then carefully analyze each excised layer using microscopic examination until your skin is entirely cancer-free. This allows the physician to remove all of the cancer, while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible.
Once your cancer is removed, there will be a defect where the procedure was performed. If this defect is small, it can be closed with terrific results by your dermatopathologist. However, if the defect is more extensive or involves sensitive areas, you may be referred to Dr. Ridgway for his reconstructive expertise.
Schedule a consultation
If you are preparing to undergo Mohs surgery for skin cancer, we encourage you to first schedule a consultation for among the best Mohs reconstruction Bellevue has to offer with Dr. James M. Ridgway. During your private meeting, he will carefully evaluate the cancerous area being removed, which allows him to collect the information he will need to restore your normal facial appearance after surgery.Schedule a consultation