Medical technology has improved exponentially over the past century. From the beginning of the 20th century to today, we’ve seen the creation of the pacemaker, defibrillator, MRI machine, CT scanner, bionic prosthetics, and so much more. Devices such as these have saved and improved countless lives.
Of course, the past 100 years have also brought about breakthroughs in medicine and surgical procedures. For several decades now, a procedure known as Mohs micrographic surgery has been changing people’s lives for the better.
Mohs micrographic surgery (or just Mohs surgery for short) is a method for removing cancerous lesions on the skin (basal (BCCs) or squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs)) without damaging any surrounding non-cancerous tissue.
During the procedure, a trained surgeon gradually removes layers of the affected skin. Each layer is then examined before being brought under a microscope and analyzed. These steps are repeated until all cancerous tissue has been successfully extracted, as indicated by the samples. The surgery is complete after the wound is properly closed or reconstructed as necessary.
The Mohs procedure, though it was originally developed in the 1930s, is still the most sought-after option for treating BCCs and SCCs. The procedure has improved over time, of course, but its operating principle remains the same. And Mohs surgery’s popularity has everything to do with its consistent track record. Let’s explore exactly how it’s changing lives.
While not 100% effective, Mohs micrographic surgery comes pretty close to curing skin cancer in all patients who undergo it. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the Mohs procedure boasts a 99% cure rate for those with a previously untreated tumor and a 94% cure rate for those with a tumor that has returned after treatment. This means the vast majority of patients who receive Mohs surgery will exit the procedure not only free of skin cancer but also with the peace of mind that their removed basal or squamous cell carcinoma won’t likely return.
Many other cancer treatments sacrifice healthy cells in order to eliminate the malignant ones. Mohs is different. Aside from its stellar cure rate, one of the greatest benefits offered by Mohs surgery is that it aims to save as much healthy tissue as possible. Part of this advantage has to do with the fact that BCCs and SCCs tend to require less invasive or potent measures than other forms of cancer. Even still, patients can rest easy knowing that most of their skin will remain untouched during Mohs surgery, and even the affected areas will heal over time. Scarring may occur, but it’s often minimal and can be treated as well.
While most patients will want to do whatever it takes to rid their bodies of cancer, the thought of surgery can be daunting for a number of reasons. People tend to think that surgeries take a long time and cost an inordinate amount of money. While this is certainly true for certain procedures, Mohs surgery is relatively fast and cost-effective. The procedure itself may take a few hours or a bit more depending on the size and severity of the tumor(s). And in the vast majority of cases, only one procedure is necessary, and all lab work is done on-site.
Finally, Mohs surgery is changing lives not only in the short term but in the long term as well. A 2018 study conducted by dermatologists at the University of Pennsylvania found that while skin cancer patients felt self-conscious about their appearance one to two weeks after undergoing Mohs surgery, their overall quality of life improved by the three-month mark after the operation. Some exceptions to this rule were found and results varied by age and gender. Still, it seems that most patients were satisfied with their lives and appearance after Mohs micrographic surgery.
As skin cancer remains a prevalent ailment for humans, it’s comforting to know that procedures like Mohs have the ability to consistently change lives for the better. Southeast Dermatology Specialists is happy to provide more information and stories regarding this amazing dermatological surgery. Contact us to ask us questions and learn more about our services and providers.