Q: What is skin cancer?
A: Cancer is the uncontrolled and abnormal growth of cells. The most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Both are most often caused by prolonged exposure to the sun.
Q: What is Mohs surgery?
A: Developed by Dr. Fredrick Mohs in the 1940s, Mohs surgery is a highly successful technique of removing skin cancer cells. The procedure involves removing the skin cancer layer-by-layer and examining the tissue under a microscope. This process is repeated until cancer-free tissue is reached. This allows the doctor to be sure all the cancer has been removed without damaging any healthier tissue than is necessary; achieving a cure rate up to 99%.
Q: Are all Mohs surgeons the same?
A: No. Not all doctors offering Mohs surgery are fellowship trained. Dr. Cohen is a member of the American College of Mohs Surgery, which requires its members to successfully complete an extensive fellowship. This fellowship involves at least one full year of training and hands-on experience provided by highly qualified instructors.
Q: How do I know if Mohs surgery is right for me?
A: Mohs surgery is the preferred method of skin cancer removal when:
- Skin cancer developed on areas where preserving cosmetic appearance and function are important.
- Skin cancer has recurred after previous treatment or is likely to recur.
- Skin cancer has been located in scar tissue.
- Skin cancer covers a large area or has edges that are ill-defined.
- Skin cancer has grown rapidly.
Q: How long will the procedure take?
A: Mohs surgery is an outpatient procedure performed in our office. It usually takes between two to four hours. A good rule of thumb is "half a day."
Q: How long will it take to heal?
A: Most sutures are removed in one to two weeks.
Q: Will I have to return to the office after the procedure?
A: Yes, the doctor will need to monitor your healing and make sure the cancer has not returned. The timing and number of follow-up visits are determined by the size and location of the tumor.
Q: Is Mohs surgery covered by my insurance?
A: Most insurance plans, including Medicare, cover Mohs surgery. You should check with your insurance provider for your anticipated out-of-pocket expenses.
Q: Will I have a scar?
A: Yes, with any surgical procedure there is always a scar. Mohs surgery concentrates on preserving as much healthy tissue as possible, which results in a smaller scar.
Q: How painful is the procedure?
A: Complaints of significant pain are rare and usually can be managed with over-the-counter pain medication like Tylenol.
Q: What happens if I don’t have the procedure?
A: Your tumor can continue to grow, damaging more tissue.
Q: Will the cancer come back?
A: Studies have shown that Mohs surgery has a cure rate of up to 99% on new cases. It is slightly less successful on skin cancer that already has reoccurred subsequent to another skin cancer removal procedure.