Walnut Creek dermatologist explains Mohs surgery as a treatment for skin cancer
By Dr. Christine Lee
Your skin is one of the most common places for cancer to occur. When patients come into office with symptoms of skin cancer, we begin the process by taking a complete medical history including your level of sun exposure and whether you have a family history of skin conditions. We will want to know when the spot developed and if it has changed in size or color. We will perform a thorough skin exam and check the surrounding lymph nodes.
A biopsy can be done to confirm if the spot is cancerous. This involves surgically removing a portion of the growth under local anesthetic. We send the specimen to a pathologist for evaluation. If the pathologist confirms a cancer diagnosis, we will make recommendations for the best treatment based on the type of cancer.
Some of the most common treatments include:
- Curettage – This is often the chosen treatment for basal cell carcinomas that are considered low risk (small, superficial, and have a well-defined edge). Treatment includes using a spoon-shaped sharp instrument to scrape away the cancer. An electric needle is used to minimize bleeding and destroy adjacent cancer cells.
- Surgery – This is often suggested for high-risk tumors. Surgical excision includes removal of the tumor along with a margin to ensure all cancer has been extracted.
- Mohs Surgery – During this procedure, the doctor will remove the tissue one layer at a time and evaluate it for tumor cells before continuing the next layer. Mohs surgery can be time consuming, but ensures the entire tumor is removed, scarring is minimized, and it has the highest cure rate of all the therapies.
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