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Is Moh’s Surgery Right for You?

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Moh’s surgery is a treatment option for several common types of skin cancer. If you have a skin cancer diagnosis, you may want to consider Moh’s surgery. Find out more about Moh’s surgery and learn if this treatment is right for you.

What is Moh’s Surgery?

Moh’s surgery is a treatment technique first developed by Dr. Frederic E. Mohs in the 1930s but not widely used until the 1960s. Until that time, traditional methods of skin cancer removal often involved the removal of surrounding healthy tissue along with the visible cancer. This method did not always guarantee complete cancer removal.

Moh’s new technique is more precise and removes a progression of thin layers of skin until all cancer is gone. A doctor examines each layer for cancer until only cancer-free tissue remains. This allows doctors to remove as much cancer as possible but only leaves minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Moh’s surgery lessens your chances you require additional treatment or surgery and increases your chance of a cure.

What Skin Cancer Does Moh’s Surgery Remove?

Moh’s surgery removes common forms of skin cancer like basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. These types of skin cancer occur on areas with more sun exposure like the neck, face, ears, and hands and rarely spread. Additionally, Moh’s surgery removes other cancer types like Merkel cell carcinoma, melanoma, and more rare forms of skin cancer such as Microcystic adnexal carcinoma.

Is Moh’s Surgery Right for You?

Your doctor will determine if Moh’s surgery is the right option for you, especially if you have recurring skin cancer or are at risk for recurrence. Also, you can benefit from Moh’s surgery if your skin cancer is in a visible or sensitive location where you want to keep healthy tissue and lessen scars. Examples include skin near your nose, eyes, ears, and on your hands, feet, and genitals.

Moh’s technique ensures all trace of cancerous skin are gone during the same visit, which makes it ideal for cancer with edges that are difficult to define, are very large or aggressive, or difficult to completely detect beneath the skin’s surface. Treatment is also best for cancer within scar tissue or inflammation. Finally, patients with a suppressed immune system are good candidates for Moh’s surgery.

When is Moh’s Surgery Not Recommended?

Your doctor may decide on options other than Moh’s surgery to treat your skin cancer if you are low-risk. You may be a low-risk patient if your cancer is very small or superficial and doesn’t require Moh’s unique layered approach. Instead, your cancer is easy to remove or treat with other methods like cryosurgery, curettage, surgical excision, or with a topical medication.

What Happens During Surgery?

The day of your surgery may be lengthy, as your doctor needs to remove multiple skin layers. You remain awake the entire time and your doctor injects the site with anesthesia. Once the site is numb, your doctor removes a layer and waits for a pathologist to examine it for cancer. If cancer remains, the process repeats and your doctor continues.

Your site is bandaged while you rest in the waiting room between layer checks. The surgery is complete when the last sample layer is completely clear of cancer. Your doctor closes the wound with a few stitches if the site is very small. Large wounds may need a skin graft or skin flap to heal. If you suspect skin cancer or have been diagnosed with skin cancer, Moh’s surgery might be right for you. Contact the caring team at East Carolina Dermatology and Skin Surgery, PLLC for a consultation and more information about a treatment that leaves little or no scarring.

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