Cancer can affect you anywhere on your body, and no type of this condition is more prevalent than skin cancer. Skin cancer is a dangerous illness for everyone, affecting one in five Americans by age 70 and killing at least two people every hour. There are several types of skin cancer, and it can have multiple causes, but one effective treatment that can help remove it is Mohs surgery.
This method improves over standard surgical practices and can determine when all of the cancer has been removed during surgery. To understand how this procedure works, let’s look at the types of skin cancer, how the surgery works, and what to expect from the procedure should you need it.
Patients in the Westlake Village, California area dealing with skin cancer can get quality medical and cosmetic care from Dr. Daphne Panagotacos and her skilled team. We are dedicated to helping people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, and gender identities with various medical and cosmetic skin treatments to help you feel and look your best.
Types of skin cancer
The abnormal growth of skin cells often develops on areas of the skin exposed to the sun, as overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is a common cause. These areas include the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms, and hands, but it can be found in areas all over the body, including your palms, fingernails, toenails, and genitals. Skin cancer comes in many forms:
Basal cell carcinoma
Often targeting sun-exposed areas of the body, this cancer appears as either pearly, waxy bumps, flat, flesh-colored scar-like lesions, or bleeding, scabbing sores that heal but come back.
Squamous cell carcinoma
Commonly affecting your face, ears, and hands, this condition appears as a firm red nodule or a flat, crusty, surfaced lesion. People with darker skin are more likely to deal with this problem in areas of the body not often exposed to the sun’s UV radiation.
This type of cancer can appear anywhere on your body, either on healthy skin or on moles that become cancerous. It often appears on the face and trunks of men and the lower legs of women. With melanoma, you will see either large brownish spots with dark speckles, bleeding moles of different sizes, colors, or feel, small lesions with irregular borders in different colors, painful lesions that burn or itch, dark lesions on your hands, feet, mouth, nose, or genitals.
Rarer forms of skin cancer include Kaposi sarcoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, and sebaceous gland carcinoma.
How Mohs surgery works
Also known as Mohs micrographic surgery, this surgical method removes visible cancer and minimal amounts of healthy tissue simultaneously and is designed to treat skin cancers with a high recurrence, located in areas where you want to preserve as much healthy tissue as possible. This method has a 99 percent success rate, allows the surgeon to see where the cancer stops, and is the only skin cancer treatment with that distinction.
What to expect from the procedure
Preparation for this surgery starts with a local anesthetic injection, and once that takes effect, the procedure begins with removing visible cancer. This is followed by the surgeon removing a thin layer of the surrounding skin, which is bandaged. The removed skin will then be examined for cancer cells under a microscope, and if they are found, layers of skin are removed until there is no trace of cancer. The wound from the surgery is then treated as necessary, either by letting it heal on its own, with stitches, shifting nearby skin to cover the wound or with skin grafts.
This surgery effectively treats most common cancers, such as basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, as well as different types of melanoma. Rarer forms of skin cancer can also benefit from the procedure. So if you have skin cancer and want a highly effective method of removing it, make an appointment with Dr. Panagotacos and her team to see what Mohs surgery can do for you.