By Ashraf M. Hassanein, MD, Ph D –
Florida has the distinction of being the skin cancer capital of the United States. While the Sunshine State offers good weather and a desirable lifestyle, excessive sun exposure often leads to skin cancer.
The good news is that there are a variety of treatments for skin cancer and pre-cancerous lesions. Your healthcare provider will determine which treatment plan is best for your condition.
Surgical removal of the cancerous tissue is often the best treatment. Mohs Micrographic Surgery is a more sophisticated surgical technique with the highest cure rate of all skin cancer treatment methods, about 99% for the most common types of skin cancer. Mohs Micrographic surgeons are Dermatologists who are specially trained in the technique, acting as both surgeon and pathologist.
Mohs is named after Dr. Frederic Mohs, who pioneered the technique in the 1940s.
Why Mohs Surgery?
Mohs Micrographic Surgery offers the highest cure rate because the technique ensures that all of the cancerous tissue is removed, while sparing as much healthy skin as possible. Mohs surgery is a highly specialized and precise treatment for skin cancer in which the cancer is removed in stages, one tissue layer at a time. It is an outpatient procedure, performed under local anesthesia, and is distinguished by a specific technique of tissue examination that is unique to Mohs surgery.
Skin cancers can be deceptively small on the surface of the skin, much like an iceberg. To remove it completely requires microscopic examination at a cellular level. The Mohs surgeon maps out the cancerous area, excises small portions of tissue and immediately examines each one under a microscope. If cancer cells are seen, an additional tissue layer is removed only in areas where the cancer is still present, leaving normal skin intact. This process is repeated until no cancerous tissue is left. The technique saves as much normal, healthy skin as possible.
Once the cancer has been completely removed, the surgeon will repair the wound by using a variety of techniques, including natural healing (granulation), stitching the wound together using side-to-side closure, or using a skin flap or graft. The benefits of Mohs surgery are two-fold; high cure rate and better cosmetic results for the patient.
Insurance for Mohs Surgery
Medicare and most insurance companies cover the cost of Mohs surgery and repair, if needed, following removal of the cancer. Please contact your insurance carrier for the most current coverage information related to this treatment. If you contact our office billing we may be able to help you with your questions.
It’s important to choose a fellowship trained Mohs surgeon who is a member of the American College of Mohs Surgery. Mohs College surgeons have undergone at least one year of fellowship training beyond dermatology residency, which allows for additional experience in all of these specialized processes and techniques. During training, ACMS members must have participated in at least 500 Mohs micrographic surgery cases under the supervision of an experienced, ACMS-approved Mohs surgeon. With their additional fellowship training in Mohs micrographic surgery, ACMS surgeons have learned to precisely identify the tumor, remove it with minimal damage to the surrounding healthy tissue, and reconstruct the wound.
Mohs surgery is conveniently performed under local anesthesia in an office setting. Mohs is available at FLORIDA DERMATOLOGIC SURGERY, to learn more about this effective option for removing skin cancer please call 352-430-2580 or 352-241-6111.