How Will Mohs Surgery Treat My Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, affecting more than 3 million Americans every year. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives.

While that number and the word “cancer” sound intimidating, the good news is that the two most common types of skin cancer — basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas — are highly treatable if detected early. Melanoma, the less common but more deadly type of skin cancer, can also be cured if caught early. 

At Los Gatos Dermatology, our board-certified dermatologist, Bruce Saal, MD, and his medical team have extensive experience treating this condition. And one of the most effective treatments for skin cancer is Mohs surgery. 

Signs and symptoms of skin cancer

The leading cause of skin cancer is ultraviolet rays from the sun. Not surprisingly, the most common areas that skin cancer develops are the parts of your body that are most commonly exposed to the sun, such as your:

To detect skin cancer early, be on the lookout for new, changing, or unusual skin growths. These growths can be red, brown, or flesh-colored. They can be flat or raised and firm, scaly, or smooth. The key is to note anything that is growing or changing in shape or texture. 

Regular self-examinations of your skin while bathing or changing your clothes in addition to regular skin cancer screenings or skin exams by Dr. Saal will help you catch any signs of skin cancer early, when it’s most treatable.   

What is Mohs surgery?

Mohs surgery, also called Mohs micrographic surgery, is the most effective technique to treat most non-melanoma skin cancers and also some melanomas. It’s especially effective for skin cancers that have not been treated before. It has a 99% cure rate for cancers that have not been treated previously and a 94% cure rate for a skin cancer recurrence. 

Mohs surgery is done in stages during a single visit. It’s an outpatient procedure that can last many hours. During a Mohs surgery procedure, we remove a layer of skin and then examine that layer under a microscope. If any cancer is detected in that layer, we then remove another layer and examine it. We repeat this routine until no skin cancer is detected. 

Benefits to this procedure are that it preserves healthy tissue surrounding the cancerous lesion and leaves the smallest scar possible, in addition to having a high cure rate. This procedure is especially beneficial in areas that are highly visible such as your face or areas that have little tissue surrounding it, such as your ear or eyelid.

For more information about skin cancer and to find out if Mohs surgery is right for you, call for an appointment with Dr. Saal at our Los Gatos, California practice.

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