benign skin moles

Treating Skin Cancer with Mohs Surgery

Is Mohs surgery an effective option for skin cancer?

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, other issues tended to fade into the background, and, considering the potential outcomes from a global perspective, that was understandable. Unfortunately, on a personal level, all of our other health issues remained. There is no way to describe losing so many to the virus other than tragic. That said, and not to minimize any of it in any way, the American Cancer Society tells us more than 600,000 Americans are continuing to die every year from cancer. 

Skin cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers in the United States, with it currently being estimated that one out of every five Americans will, at some point in their lifetime, develop skin cancer. Right now, nearly 10,000 people are being diagnosed with it every day.

What Is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is the result of an error in the body’s reaction to some sort of malfunction of the DNA in epidermal cells, which are found closest to the surface of the skin. When the body is not able to repair these abnormal cells, it triggers mutations that then begin to multiply uncontrollably.  

There are different types of skin cancer, based on the type of cell that has mutated. Those most often found include:  

  • Melanoma – the rarest but also most serious, this skin cancer is found in only very small percentage of cases but the vast majority of skin cancer related deaths are due to melanoma
  • Basal cell carcinoma – basal cells, which are located immediately beneath the surface of the skin, are the most likely to develop skin cancer
  • Squamous cell carcinoma – squamous cells are found on the surface of the skin and are another common type of skin cancer
  • Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) – these cells, with their telltale purple blotches indicating they are cancerous, will likely forever be the symbol of the AIDS epidemic 
  • Merkel cell carcinoma – Merkel cells are found below the skin, near nerve cells
  • Lymphoma (of the skin) – we typically associate these cells with the lymph nodes but they are also found in the skin cells of those worrying dark patches, moles and pimples

Treating Skin Cancer

As scary as cancer in any form can be, the good news is that it is treatable. Early detection and treatment cannot be overstressed. The cure rate for non-melanoma skin cancer is 95%, if it is caught and treated early. 

The types of skin cancer most often diagnosed, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are typically treated with a procedure known as Mohs surgery. For newly detected skin cancers, Mohs surgery actually has a 99% cure rate. When performed on cancers that have come back, the cure rate is still 95%. 

The success rate for Mohs surgery can be largely attributed to its process. The goal is to remove the tumor and all of its roots. During the Mohs procedure, the dermatologic surgeon removes one layer at a time, checking at each step to determine if all cancer cells have been removed. This process has the added advantage of doing as little damage to surrounding tissue as possible.  Dr. Cohen can then be available to assist with closure of the defect.

Dr. Brian D. Cohen is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon with extensive training in cosmetic/reconstructive plastic surgery and has had years of experience performing a wide array of cosmetic surgery procedures, specializing in procedures of the face, eyes, nose, breast, and body and is known for his exemplary and compassionate care by his patients. Knowing that Dr. Cohen has been selected by his peers in Super Doctors for 9 years in a row in 2021 gives you the confidence that he is highly respected for his performance in his specialty.

Information on locations and office hours for Cohen Plastic Surgery can be found by clicking here