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Mohs Surgery: Why it's the Gold Standard for Treating the Most Common Types of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer affects more people in the United States than all other cancers combined, so chances are, you or someone you know has been or will be diagnosed with this potentially life-threatening disease. The good news is that caught early, most skin cancers are highly treatable with an excellent recovery rate. In honor of Skin Cancer Awareness Month, here at Specialists in Dermatology, we want to explain the benefits of Mohs surgery, and why it’s the gold standard for treating the most common types of skin cancer.

Mohs surgery, also called Mohs micrographic surgery, is a procedure that treats a variety of skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma – the most common form of skin cancer – and squamous cell carcinoma – the second most common type. Mohs surgery is the gold standard when it comes to these common types of skin cancers, because of its impressive 99% cure rate for newly diagnosed cancers and 94% cure rate for recurring skin cancer.

At Specialists in Dermatology, with three locations in Tucson, to serve Southern Arizona, Dr. Weimin Katherine Hu has extensive fellowship training as a Mohs surgeon. She treats all types of skin cancers with a high success rate.

Mohs Surgery treats cancer cells without damaging surrounding healthy tissue

There are two major benefits to treating skin cancer with Mohs surgery:

  1. Has a notably high success rate
  2. It leaves surrounding tissue unharmed and only a minimal scar

That makes Mohs Surgery an ideal treatment for cancerous growths in highly visible areas such as your nose, eyes, lips, ears, and scalp. And it can potentially save your life.

The advantages of Mohs surgery over other types of excision surgery, in which the doctor cuts away the cancerous lesion as well as some of the surrounding tissue, is that you leave the office with a clean bill of health and minimal scarring. With excision surgery, the tissue needs to be sent to a lab to examine whether it’s cancerous, or not. Mohs Surgery takes the guesswork out of the process, as your surgeon examines each layer of tissue under a microscope as she removes it.

Mohs Surgery is an outpatient procedure

Mohs surgery is done on an outpatient basis. While you wait, your skilled dermatology surgeon removes one layer of skin at a time from the cancerous area and examines each layer under a microscope. Dr. Hu repeats the process until she reaches a layer of tissue that shows no signs of abnormal growth or cancer. Your surrounding healthy skin is preserved, as well.

Mohs Surgery can take several hours, but you can read, text, or work while your skin is examined under the microscope. And once you’re free to go, you can rest assure that the cancer has been completely and thoroughly removed during the procedure.

If your skin requires stitches or other types of closure or repair, Dr. Hu has extensive training in reconstructive surgery, so she can often complete this process on the same day, if needed, soon after your Mohs surgery is over.

Is Mohs surgery right for me?

Mohs surgery is ideal for people who want little to no sign of their cancer or treatment to remain, so it’s often recommended when the skin cancer is in highly visible areas such as the face and hands. Mohs surgery is most commonly used for people with small and large basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. It’s also a consideration for people with some melanomas as well as for people with recurrent skin cancers.

After Mohs surgery, skin cancer is not likely to return, which for many people, is reason enough to choose this state-of-the-art treatment option.

For more information about Mohs surgery and Dr. Hu’s expertise in the field, call the Tucson area location closest to you, or make an appointment online.

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