Monday, April 26

Skin cancer treatment in one office visit

It’s a diagnosis that no one wants to hear, skin cancer. Skin cancer is the mutation of abnormal cells in the outermost skin layer. These mutations lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. The main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma. In many cases, if skin cancer is caught early, a dermatologist can treat it with little or no long-term scarring and high odds of eliminating it entirely.

One such method that is now available at Marshall Dermatology is the Mohs micrographic surgery procedure. Mohs surgery is most often used for patients who have been diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. This in-office procedure is performed by a specialty-trained Mohs surgeon.  A Mohs surgeon removes the tumor, examines the tissue under a microscope and performs the reconstruction to repair the skin.

“This procedure is done in stages during a single patient visit,” said Eduardo Vidal, Mohs surgeon and assistant professor in the Department of Dermatology at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. “I strive to remove all cancerous cells, and attain the highest possible cure rate while sparing healthy tissue and leaving the smallest possible scar.”

Using a scalpel, the physician removes a thin layer of visible cancerous tissue, cuts it into sections, color codes them and draws a map of the surgical site. A technician takes the sample, freezes it then cuts very thin horizontal slices.

The slices are then placed on microscope slides, stained and examined by the physician. The physician examines all the edges and underside of the tissue on the slides and, if any cancer cells remain, marks their location on the map. This process is repeated until all cancer cells are removed.

The existing area is then either left to heal on its own or stitched closed. Depending on the size of the area, the entire procedure can be completed in less than three hours.

The cure rate using Moh’s micrographic surgery is 99% for patients whose skin cancer has not been treated before and 94% for patients with reoccurring skin cancer.

“Mohs surgery is the gold standard for treating many basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas,” Vidal said. “This procedure is especially useful in cosmetically and functionally important areas such as the face or hands.”  “It’s critically important to insist your Mohs surgery be performed only by fellowship-trained physicians who are members of the American College of Mohs Surgery, as they have received rigorous training from programs that must pass a rigorous application and review process to ensure excellence.” 

Mohs surgery has also been used for basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas that are large, aggressive or growing rapidly.

For more information about Mohs micrographic surgery, please call Marshall Dermatology at 304.691.1930.