If you've recently been diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer, chances are that your doctor has discussed with you the various procedures to remove the lesion. While you will have a number of options, you certainly want to choose the one that will eliminate the cancer while minimizing your risks. If your dermatologist has said you're a candidate for Mohs surgery, here are three benefits to having this procedure done.
Highest Cure Rate
The two common types of non-melanoma skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). About 2,000 deaths occur annually from these types of cancer, so the importance of removing the entire lesion and seeking a cure is quite clear. Treatment options other than Mohs include excision, electrodessication and curettage (ED&C), cryosurgery, and non-surgical procedures such as radiation, topical creams, and photodynamic therapy. However, when looking at these options, it appears that one in particular stands out as a great choice.
The Mohs technique involves the removal of the tumor or lesion with a scalpel or curette. While the patient waits, the sample is sent to an in-house laboratory where it's examined under a microscope for clean margins. If any cancer cells are detected, more tissue is cut away until the margins are free of cancer cells. Because the patient does not leave the clinic until clean margins are achieved, this method has the highest known cure rate, reaching levels as high as 98% or greater, making it the preferred choice for many doctors.
Less Chance of Relapse
If you've been diagnosed with a BCC or SCC, you're automatically at risk for recurrence. Your doctor should discuss ways you can stop another lesion from occurring, but with the Mohs technique, you'll be ahead of the game.
If you've opted for Mohs surgery to remove a BCC, your chance of recurrence is only about 1% within the first five years. With cryosurgery, ED&C, and excision, your chances of seeing another lesion are 7.5%, 7.7%, and 10.1%, respectively.
For those with small SCCs, the recurrence rate is about the same as those with BCCs, but they tend to occur within the first two years after removal of the initial lesion.
When comparing all available surgical methods, it's important to note there's always a risk of bleeding or infection, but one study has indicated the risks are much less with the Mohs surgery. The Cutaneous Oncology Research Cooperative examined 1,550 patients who had this procedure performed and found no major complications like stroke, heart attack, and hospitalization. And only 2.6% of those studied experienced minor issues with bleeding and healing, making this method statistically safer than the others.