Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world, with the alarming statistic that one in five Americans will develop it during their lifetime. Nobody likes to think about what they would do if they were diagnosed with skin cancer. But if you have been diagnosed with one of the more common forms of skin cancer, Mohs surgery could be a suitable option.  Let’s show you how it works.

Mohs Surgery Boston

What is Mohs Surgery?

The goal of Mohs surgery is to completely remove cancer from your skin. This type of surgery is usually performed for the non-melanoma skin cancers Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma, but can also work on a variety of skin tumors. It allows our Mohs surgeon to remove the skin cancer, while also preserving the surrounding tissue. Dr. Suzanne Mosher, an experienced and excellent Mohs surgeon, has been performing this important procedure in our office for 5 years with superb results.

How Mohs Surgery is Performed

The Mohs procedure is performed in a number of stages in one visit. Under local anesthesia, a layer of tissue is removed from the patient, which is examined in our on-premise lab to check if any cancer cells remain. 

If there are remaining cancer cells at any border of the tissue, the surgeon will remove another layer of tissue from that location, minimizing damage to any surrounding healthy tissue. The process is repeated until there are no more cancer cells remaining.

Mohs surgery is beneficial for a number of reasons. First, and most importantly, it removes skin cancer from your body with the highest cure rate available. Second, the Mohs procedure is designed to precisely target and remove all cancerous cells, leaving the surrounding healthy tissue intact leading to the smallest defect, best repair and superior cosmetic result post surgery.

Your insurance will cover Mohs surgery for skin cancers that fulfill certain criteria such as location (face, hands, scalp etc..), aggressiveness of the tumor, size, whether it has been operated on before, and some patient specific conditions such as immunosuppression.

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Types of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer comes in different forms. Melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer. Melanomas may evolve from moles, but may also occur in previously normal skin without a preceding mole.  They are most often brown or black but can also be pink or red.  Melanomas are not treated with traditional Mohs surgery as the frozen section used in the Mohs procedure is not as good as overnight traditional pathology preparation to identify whether margins are clear.  There are other types of skin cancers that are not as dangerous as melanomas but require urgent treatment nonetheless

Basal Cell Carcinoma, most common in men and women over the age of 40. It usually appears as a pink bump or pink scaly area with a defined border.  Sun exposure increases risk of BCC.

Another type of skin cancer is Squamous Cell Carcinoma, commonly abbreviated to SCC. This is the second most common form of skin cancer after BCC, and often takes the form of a thickened or crusty raised growth. The biggest risk factor of SCC is overexposure to UV light. If not treated, or is present in high-risk areas like the lip and scalp SCC can cause metastases, which means it spreads to other internal organs of the body.

The Importance of an Annual Skin Check

Skin checks are the most vital part of any dermatological care. Yearly dermatologic skin checks as well as monthly self skin exams can identify suspicious growths and are the best prevention for most patients. When we identify a suspicious growth on exam in the office, we perform a biopsy which goes to a specialized dermatology pathology lab.

Patients who have a family history of melanoma, moles, or history of sun damage or sunburns could have an increased risk for skin cancer. It is also vital that you perform a monthly skin check on yourself. While Mohs surgery has a 99% cure rate for skin cancer that has not been treated before.

“I really like coming here – specifically to see Dr. Norden (worth the drive). She’s very thorough, a good listener and detail oriented. I really appreciate that Dr. Norden doesn’t dismiss any question or concern – no matter how small or minor you may think it is – and she always explains very thoroughly why she’s recommending a particular course of action or treatment plan (I appreciate her clear communication). Dr. Norden is the best dermatologist that I have ever had – and she doesn’t hesitate to test anything that looks suspicious or that she wants confirmation about. My prior dermatologist waited over 18 months to test a suspicious spot on my nose and it turned out to be Basal Cell Carcinoma, requiring painful MOHs surgery and a skin graft. I feel like Dr. Norden is proactive, thorough and wouldn’t hesitate to test something sketchy. One other little thing that I LOVE about this doctor…I had some weird rough patch on my elbow that I had for years that I mentioned in passing during one of our appts. and the doctor gave me a couple of small free samples of this cream that cleared it right up in no time (like miraculously)…I later found out from my pharmacy that this miracle cream typically costs hundreds (literally hundreds) of dollars and most insurance companies don’t cover it. This one small gesture from the doctor saved me a ton of $. However, (more importantly) Dr. Norden saw a way she could solve a relatively minor problem, acted proactively and didn’t try to write me out a costly prescription when she had some samples readily available to help me. That’s how Dr. Norden rolls. Can’t beat that.”*

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Take the Next Step

If you have further questions on mohs surgery, we encourage you to schedule a consultation at Krauss Dermatology. Call us at (781) 416-3500 or fill out our online contact form. We look forward to meeting you!