Mohs Surgery is a specialized surgical procedure used to treat skin cancer. In this procedure, the thin layers of the affected skin are cut away in order to treat skin cancer. The cutting process goes on till every skin cancer cell has been removed.
As the layers of the skin are removed, a dermatologist examines them under a microscope and each layer goes through the same scrutiny until cancer-free tissues remain.
When the surgery takes place, patients are given medicine to numb the affected area so that they do not feel pain. In most cases, patients go home straight after the surgery and do not require any hospitalization stay.
How Did Mohs Surgery Get Its Name?
It is named Mohs after Dr. Frederic Mohs – a general surgeon at the University of Wisconsin – who developed it in the 1930s. It is defined as a surgical procedure used mainly by dermatologists to treat skin cancer.
Technicalities of Mohs Surgery
Mohs Surgery is considered to be one of the most effective techniques that can be used to treat two of the most common skin cancers:
Aside from these, the procedure can also be used to treat rare forms of skin cancers, such as Extramammary Paget’s Disease, Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans, and Merkel Cell Carcinoma.
Generally, Mohs Surgery is recommended for treating skin cancers under the following conditions:
- If the skin cancer is located in thin tissues like the ears, mouth, feet, genitals, eyes, nose, and hands.
- If the cancer is aggressive –large in size, or both.
- If the cancer returns after treatment is done before.
- If cancer appears in an area where there is already the presence of scar tissue.
- If it has borders that are undefined or hard to define.
- If the patient is immunocompromised.
- If the patient has irradiated skin since before.
Advantages of Mohs Surgery
Here are a few advantages of Mohs Surgery:
- It removes the exact amount of affected tissues without causing much damage to your healthy tissues.
- The cancer tissues are removed completely.
- The complete removal of skin cancer eliminates the chance of it re-growing.
- The healthy tissues that are affected are less comparatively; this end ups being a good cosmetic as well as a functional outcome.
You can get the surgery done and even the repair on the area where the surgery is done in a single day.
It offers a permanent and long-term solution to skin cancers, which other procedures have failed to do.
Risks of Mohs Surgery
In case of low-risk cancer, it can be treated with less invasive methods.
Here are some risks associated with Mohs Surgery:
- While many people prefer one-day treatment, it can be an incredibly long procedure for others. Sitting around and getting everything done in one go can be challenging for many patients.
- The patient’s fitness and overall health is a concern when opting for Mohs Surgery; the ideal patient is not too frail nor too old for it.
- It does not treat all types of skin cancers.
- It is quite an expensive procedure (although the additional surgery days, the pathology tests, etc., would be saved in this).
What To Expect From Mohs Surgery?
This procedure has an outpatient setting. A surgeon uses local anesthesia to numb the affected area. After injecting anesthesia, a scalpel is used for removing thin layers of skin that are shaped like saucers; this is done in a sequential method.
Mapping is a vital part of the procedure as it allows the surgeon to remove each layer in a planned and proper manner. The removed skin samples are marked with colored dyes, which help guide the surgeon. The map consists of the surgical area and is made with a computer application or even a freehand drawing. The map allows the surgeon to monitor the area of surgery and identify the cancerous cells.
Some cancers are located in the deeper layers of the skin but appear small from the surface; others may be shallow and may need only a few small layers to be removed.
After all the tissue is removed, the specimen is frozen, cut into very thin sections, and prepared onto glass slides.
They are processed onto the glass slides by Mohs histotechnicians - professionals who are trained in preparing these slides, which takes around an hour.
Here, you have read all about Mohs Surgery, , what you can expect during the procedure, and of course, its benefits and risks.
The aim of the surgery is to remove cancer cells from the deepest layers of the skin, keeping in mind that the healthy skin around the affected area is not compromised, the requirement for more treatments and surgical procedures is often diminished
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