When skin cancer returns after standard surgery: Is Mohs in Englewood/South Denver or Lone Tree the solution?
Receiving a diagnosis of cancer is a frightening experience. In the case of skin cancers there is a very good chance of successful treatment if the problem is detected early. However, a small percentage of patients receive that dreaded diagnosis again at the same site that it occurred the first time. If you or someone you love has experienced a recurrence of skin cancer after surgery, don’t give up. Mohs surgery, offered at AboutSkin Dermatology and DermSurgey, PC is an advanced cancer treatment with an excellent success rate, even for aggressive or recurrent cancers.
How Mohs is different
Why would Mohs surgery work better than other techniques? A visual examination and biopsy can determine the approximate surface size of the cancer. However, for traditional techniques, the surgeon must estimate the precise location of the margins (edges) as well as the depth. The amount of tissue removed includes a margin of normal appearing skin around the cancerous lesion, in case the cancer extends farther than what it appears on visual inspection. Unfortunately, on occasion the extent of the tumor exceeds the area removed. The cancerous cells can continue to spread if a separate, second excision is not performed.
Mohs surgery takes the guesswork out of removing cancer, and is used when tissue conservation is key. A very thin layer of tissue is removed, processed by specialized frozen-tissue technique, and analyzed by the surgeon in the office right after removal. The precise location of cancerous tissue is mapped, providing a guide for the next layer of tissue removed. This additional layer, if necessary, is then analyzed in the same way. The process is repeated as many times as necessary, until the final layer reveals no traces of cancer. This is all accomplished during the same visit. Using Mohs surgery, it is possible to achieve a very low cancer recurrence rate of 1% with minimal removal of normal, healthy tissue.
Are you a candidate?
If you are afflicted with skin cancer, particularly if it is recurrent, aggressive, large, or located in a cosmetically sensitive area, the answer is probably yes. Some patients ask why their previous doctors did not recommend Mohs in the first place. Treatment recommendations are based on many factors, so we cannot guess the reason for another physician’s decision, especially without knowing the details of your case. Not all skin cancers require Mohs surgery. Your physician at AboutSkin will recommend skin cancer treatment based on your unique clinical features.
Mohs surgery is a complex procedure, requiring extensive training and diagnostic skills as well as surgical expertise. Few dermatologists complete a one-year fellowship to perform this procedure. Patients with aggressive, recurring, or cosmetically sensitive tumors are usually referred to a fellowship trained Mohs surgeon, such as Dr. Joel Cohen of AboutSkin.
If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, whether new or recurring, be sure to explore your options and find out if Mohs is right for you. Call 303.756.SKIN (7546) and schedule a consultation at either of our convenient offices, in Englewood/South Denver or Lone Tree.