Who Should Have Mohs Surgery?
Mohs surgery is the front-line skin cancer treatment for high-risk non-melanoma skin cancers. The procedure is highly effective and offers the lowest recurrence rate, the highest cure rate, and the best cosmetic results of any skin cancer treatment. The procedure is performed in-office and normally takes several hours to complete, depending on the scope of the area affected.
What Are High-Risk Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers?
A non-melanoma skin cancer is considered high risk if it occurs on the lips, nose, eyelids, ears, feet, hands, or genitals. These cancers are considered high-risk because they have a high likelihood of recurrence when treated with standard therapies. A recurrence of a skin carcinoma in these areas typically involves extensive surgery because of the possibility of undetected growth patterns below the surface of the skin, which increases the likelihood of disfigurement and scarring. A non-melanoma skin carcinoma is also considered high-risk if the patient has a suppressed immune system because of medications, disease, or genetics.
Other Uses for Mohs Surgery:
Mohs surgery can treat recurrent skin cancers, large cancers, cancers with unusual growth patterns or hard-to-see borders, cancers that cannot be completely removed using other treatments, and cancers that develop in scar tissue.
Non-melanoma skin cancers that are small, superficial, or in low-risk areas are more appropriately treated using cryosurgery, excision, photodynamic therapy with topical medications, or curettage and electrodessication.
Skin Cancer Risk:
The incidence of skin cancer has been increasing steadily over the past several decades, especially among women and individuals under the age of 40. This is largely due to the popularity of indoor tanning beds. The best way to prevent skin cancer is to wear sunscreen and protective clothing when outdoors and to avoid tanning beds.
Early Detection Is Key:
Non-melanoma skin cancers are highly treatable when detected early. Although basal cell carcinomas do not normally metastasize, they can grow aggressively and damage blood vessels, nerves, muscle, and bones if not treated. Approximately 4 percent of squamous cell carcinomas metastasize and can result in death if not treated.
Anyone with a history of excessive sun exposure or prior skin cancers should conduct a monthly skin self-exam and see a dermatologist regularly for a professional exam. Anyone discovering a new or changing skin growth or spot should consult with a dermatologist at Calabasas Dermatology Center immediately.