Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. If left unchecked, these cancer cells can spread from the skin into other tissues and organs.
The best method to treat skin cancer is to prevent it or to catch it in the early stages. Prevention can be accomplished by avoiding sun damage, and early detection is possible with regular skin cancer screenings.
There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell, squamous cell and malignant melanoma.
Although malignant melanoma is not the most common, it is the most deadly. More than 68,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma this year, and more than 8,000 are likely to die. Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults ages 25-29 years old. It is the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults ages 15-29 years old. Unfortunately, the number of cases of melanoma is increasing. Many people do not realize that something on the skin can kill them, especially if it is small and has no symptoms, so please be cautious and aware and visit your dermatologist once a year for a skin check-up. Prevention is the best way to avoid melanoma.
A – Asymmetry: One half is unlike the other half of the spot.
B – Borders: Melanomas will often have irregular or poorly defined borders.
C – Color: Look for varying colors throughout the spot. Colors may include red, brown, black, white or blue.
D – Diameter: If the spot’s diameter varies from one area to the other and has varying shades of color, these are signs of melanoma.
E – Evolving: A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color, or a mole that is suddenly itchy, inflamed, bleeding or scabby should be examined by a doctor.
Developed by and named for Dr. Frederic Mohs, this surgical procedure is the most effective method for treating skin cancer. Boasting a cure rate of 99 percent for first time cancers, the procedure requires only a local anesthetic and rarely requires hospitalization.
ABOUT MOHS SURGERY
Mohs Micrographic Surgery is the most advanced and effective treatment procedure for skin cancer available today. The procedure is performed by specially trained surgeons who have completed at least one additional year of fellowship training (in addition to the physician's three-year dermatology residency and one year of medicine residency).
Initially developed by Dr. Frederic E. Mohs, the Mohs procedure is a state-of-the-art treatment that has been continuously refined over the course of 70 years. Using the Mohs technique, surgeons are able to see beyond the visible disease and precisely identify and remove an entire tumor, layer by layer, while leaving the surrounding healthy tissue intact and unharmed. As the most exact and precise method of tumor removal, it minimizes the chance of re-growth and lessens the potential for scarring or disfigurement. Because a Mohs surgeon is specially trained in surgery, pathology and reconstruction, Mohs surgery has the highest success rate of all treatments for skin cancer.
The Mohs technique is also the treatment of choice for cancers of the face and other sensitive areas, as it relies on the accuracy of a microscopic surgical procedure to trace the edges of the cancer and ensure complete removal of all tumors during the initial surgery.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery is an effective and precise method for treating basal cell skin cancer, squamous cell skin cancers and other skin tumors.
MOHS PROCEDURE AND POST-OPERATIVE CARE
Mohs surgery is typically an outpatient procedure performed in a physician's office. Most procedures start early in the morning and can be completed the same day, depending on the extent of the tumor and the amount of reconstruction necessary. Local anesthesia is administered around the area of the tumor, meaning that while the affected area is numb, the patient is awake throughout the procedure.
As a Mohs surgeon, Dr. Purvisha Patel is trained in reconstructive procedures and will perform the necessary reconstruction to repair the wound. As soon as the affected area is declared cancer-free, a variety of post-surgical options are available. These include:
- A small, simple wound may be allowed to heal on its own.
- A slightly larger wound may be closed with stitches.
- Larger wounds may require a skin graft or a flap.
- If the tumor is very large, another surgeon with special skills may be called upon to assist with reconstruction.
Most patients will require post-surgical check-ups in order to monitor the patient's progress and identify any possible cancer recurrence in a timely manner. Follow-up is very important for the detection of new lesions, as statistics show that two in five patients will develop new skin cancers within five years.
CONSIDERING MOHS SURGERY
Mohs Micrographic Surgery is primarily used to treat basal and squamous cell carcinomas, but it can be used to treat less common tumors, including melanoma. Mohs surgery is appropriate when:
- The cancer is in an area where it is important to preserve healthy tissue for maximum functional and cosmetic results. These areas include a patient’s eyelids, nose, ears, lips, fingers, toes, genitals and other sensitive areas.
- The cancer was treated previously and recurred.
- Scar tissue exists in the area of the cancer.
- The cancer is large.
- The edges of the cancer cannot be clearly defined.
- The cancer is growing rapidly or uncontrollably.
If you have any questions about skin cancer or if you would like to have a screening to check suspicious areas on your skin, call 901-759-2322 to schedule an appointment with Advanced Dermatology.