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Mohs surgery: New option for skin cancer treatment

A highly effective and advanced treatment for skin cancer is now available in San Angelo.

Skin cancer is still the most common form of cancer in the United States. Annually, 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed in more than 2 million people. Through the years, we have learned  more about the different types of skin cancer, the severity of each type, what causes the disease and many more details.

Fortunately, the best news regarding skin cancer is that detecting the disease early means chances for successful treatment are much higher. And a highly effective and advanced treatment for skin cancer is now available in San Angelo.

The Mohs method

Mohs micrographic surgery was originally developed in the 1950s by Frederic E. Mohs, MD. Since Dr. Mohs’ breakthrough development, the procedure has become the most effective, advanced and precise treatment for a variety of skin cancers.

The procedure is unique among skin cancer treatments and has multiple advantages—including a 99 percent cure rate. The primary goal of Mohs surgery is to remove all cancerous cells while leaving healthy tissue intact, minimizing scarring and giving the best cosmetic repair.

How it works

Mohs is an outpatient procedure performed in the office setting. The patient is awake throughout the procedure. A local anesthetic is used to numb the area around the tumor.

The surgeon removes the visible pieces of the tumor and a thin layer of surrounding tissue, which is processed using a special technique and examined by the Mohs surgeon under a microscope. If the surgeon finds signs of cancer, another layer of tissue is removed precisely from the area where the cancer was detected, ensuring that only cancerous tissue is removed. These steps are repeated until the surgeon views a sample that is free of cancerous tissue.

Minimizing scars

After surgery, the wound is assessed, and the surgeon discusses reconstruction options with the patient, including simple closure, flaps, grafts and even allowing a wound to heal on its own. In most cases, these techniques are the same as performed during plastic surgery, and the repairs  are made on the same day as tumor removal.

Another advantage of Mohs surgery is that the procedure can be used to cure skin cancer when other treatment methods have failed. Some other methods do not use precise identification for the removal of cancerous tissue. Healthy skin may be removed unnecessarily, or the tumor may regrow if any of the unidentified cancerous tissue is left behind.

The Mohs technique is mainly used to treat basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma—the most common types of skin cancer—but can also be used on other less common skin cancers. For more information, call Steve Ritter, MD, at 325-481-2215.

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