Understanding Skin Cancer

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Understanding Skin Cancers

Caring for the Health and Beauty of Skin for over 40 years

Skin cancer is the most common form of human cancers, affecting more than one million Americans every year. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives. Skin cancers are generally curable if caught early. However, people who have had skin cancer are at a higher risk of developing a new skin cancer, which is why regular self-examination and doctor visits are imperative.

The vast majority of skin cancers are composed of three different types: Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, & Melanoma.

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Frequently Asked Questions

This section is designed to help answer some of our most frequently asked questions. Still, have a question? Always feel free to give us a call and we'd be happy to get you an answer.

Skin cancers are growths are malignant growths that grow uncontrollably if not treated.  The three main types of skin cancers are basal cell cancers, squamous cell cancers, and malignant melanoma.  Mohs surgery is used most frequently for basal cell cancers and squamous cell cancers.  It can be used for selected melanomas as well as other less common but high-risk skin growths.

Mohs surgery is a technique of skin cancer removal whereby the specimen is processed immediately and examined under a microscope.  This allows the Mohs surgeon (the dermatologist treating your skin cancer) to know whether the skin cancer has been completely removed.  If the cancer is not completely removed on the first try, then additional tissue is removed and examined in the same manner under the microscope.  Once done, the resulting defect is surgically repaired.

Mohs surgery is highly curative (statistically it has the highest cure rates) and it is tissue sparing.  In other words, it allows the dermatologist to remove the smallest amount of skin yet ensure the highest cure rate.  In this way, it is more advantageous than other skin cancer treatments in selected cases.

The size of the scar will ultimately depend on the initial size of the tumor.  However, the smallest scar is achievable only through Mohs surgery since it is a tissue sparing technique (Mohs surgery allows the dermatologist to remove the least amount of tissue yet give the highest cure rate).

The duration of the surgery also depends on the size of the skin cancer and the number of times a tissue section (stage) must be taken.  Generally a patient will be in the office for half a day or longer

Because of Mohs surgery’s high cure rate and the fact that it includes all aspects of skin cancer treatment into one single procedure, Mohs surgery is generally more cost-effective than other types of surgeries (should surgery be chosen as the treatment option).  In a single procedure, the dermatologist removes cancerous tissue, examines it, and then repairs it. 

The technique called Mohs is named after Frederick Mohs, who developed it close to 60 years ago.  Of course, there have been refinements and improvements in the technique since it was first introduced, but the name has stuck in honor of Dr. Mohs’ contribution.

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