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What You Need to Know About Treating Skin Cancer

How Mohs surgery can cure skin cancer while providing the desired cosmetic outcome.

What You Need to Know About Treating Skin Cancer

As a Floridian, you either love the sun or learn to love it. But time spent in the sun increases your risk for skin cancer. Since the U.S. has the second highest incidence rate of skin cancer, its screening and treatment will remain an important aspect of your overall health.

Your doctor will determine the best method of treatment for you based on your type of skin cancer, its location and your history. Common options include scraping and burning, surgical removal, X-ray treatment and cryosurgery (freezing). About nine out of 10 cancers treated by these methods will be cured.

These procedures often prove ineffective because they rely on the human eye to determine the extent of the cancer. In an effort to preserve healthy tissue, too little tissue may be removed resulting in recurrence of the cancer. Or an overcautious surgeon could remove more healthy tissue than necessary, causing excessive scarring.

Some skin cancers don’t respond well to common treatments, including skin cancers that are greater than two centimeters in diameter, are in difficult locations and are complicated by previous treatment. Removing a recurring skin cancer is more complicated because scar tissue makes it difficult to differentiate between cancerous and healthy tissue.

Mohs surgery is a state-of-the-art treatment where the physician serves as the surgeon, pathologist and reconstructive surgeon. It is the most effective treatment available for basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma. The technique offers the highest cure rates while preserving healthy tissue and minimizing the cosmetic impact. This is achieved by removing thin layers of skin one at a time and examining the skin for remaining cancer roots.

It is important to emphasize that no technique, including Mohs surgery, can promise a 100 percent cure rate. However, of all the available techniques for removing skin cancer, Mohs surgery preserves the greatest amount of healthy tissue and has a cure rate of up to 99 percent.

Since sun and UV exposure are the greatest risk factors for these cancers, it’s not surprising that 80 percent of cases occur on the face and neck, where most people prefer not to have scars. With Mohs surgery, only the affected skin is removed, preserving the greatest amount of healthy skin and allowing for a better cosmetic outcome.

While any board-certified dermatologist may perform Mohs surgery, only members of the American College of Mohs Surgery have completed an extensive fellowship under the guidance of an accredited physician. During this time, the physician gains a breadth of experience with the full spectrum of skin cancer, including rare tumor pathology, difficult tumor locations and complex wound reconstruction.

These physicians have had at least one year of extensive, hands-on training from highly qualified instructors. To successfully complete the fellowship, physicians participate in a minimum of 500 Mohs surgery cases and provide a wide breath of reconstructions, ranging from simple to complex. By choosing a fellowship trained Mohs surgeon, you can be assured that you will receive the highest standard of quality and competency, as well as an optimal outcome.

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