There are many ways skin cancer can be treated, but one of the most advanced and effective methods for certain types is Mohs surgery. Charleston, SC, area dermatologist Dr. Joseph McGowan at Germain Dermatology is trained and experienced in using this precision technique to effectively remove cancerous cells while preserving the maximum amount of surrounding tissue.
Mohs surgery, also known as chemosurgery, is a surgical excision that happens in stages as cancerous tissue is cut away layer by layer. Dr. Frederick Mohs pioneered the technique in the 1930s, and the micrographic surgery has only improved since then, reaching a 97 to 99 percent five-year cure rate today. Its ability to remove only as much skin as necessary to excise the cancerous tissue makes it ideal for highly visible areas of the body, such as the face, since it minimizes scarring.
Because basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma spread relatively slowly and can remain contained in a small area if caught early, they are ideal for treatment with Mohs surgery.
The technique involves the surgeon removing very thin layers of tissue taken from the target area, then examining the margins closely with a microscope to identify cancer cells. The process continues until there is no trace of cancer present in the layers being scrutinized. This allows the surgeon to remove all of the cancerous tissue and virtually only the cancerous tissue.
Such highly focused precision has benefits beyond the aesthetic. Tumors that have recurred after a previous treatment respond well to Mohs surgery, as do growths that have ill-defined borders. Areas of the body ideal for this treatment include the eyelids and other prominent facial features, extremities such as fingers and toes, and genitals.
The dermatologists at Germain Dermatology are both fellows of the American Society of Mohs Surgery. Any surgeon seeking to practice this technique must undergo specialized training to ensure patient health and safety.
Joseph McGowan IV, M.D. is a board-certified dermatologist who is fellowship trained in Mohs micrographic skin cancer. He has authored numerous articles and has lectured at many national professional meetings on skin cancer and reconstructive techniques. At Germain Dermatology Dr. McGowan specializes in Mohs micrographic and dermatologic surgery.
Mohs surgery is only intended for use with basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. Patients who have been diagnosed with the more aggressive and rapidly spreading melanoma will have treatment options better suited for addressing that condition. Dr. Germain and Dr. McGowan will guide their patients and provide information to help them make the best decision based on their diagnosis and health.
While Mohs surgery is very effective for treating carcinomas, the best defense against skin cancer is prevention. Children and adults alike should use sunscreen daily, and keep their skin out of direct sunlight as much as possible by wearing appropriate clothing. While skin cancer may be caused by a variety of factors, a major contributor is ultraviolet radiation from the sun and lights found in tanning beds.
Early detection is also key in the fight against skin cancer, so be sure to schedule regular visits with your dermatologist, who will examine your skin and test any suspicious spots as necessary.