Treating Skin Cancer with Mohs Surgery

What is Mohs Surgery?

Mohs surgery is unique in its precision and ability to fully remove skin cancers in a single treatment session. Cancerous cells are removed in fine layers and studied under a microscope before additional tissue is taken. This ensures Dr. Arlette can fully remove cancerous tissue, while leaving healthy tissue intact.

There are numerous benefits to Mohs surgery in Calgary over other forms of surgical excision, which is why this procedure continues to be a top choice in skin cancer treatment today. First, the procedure removes less healthy tissue, since each layer is carefully inspected for cancerous cells. Traditional surgical excision typically relies on the guesswork of the physician and removal of a larger area of tissue to ensure the cancer is eliminated. Removal of less tissue also means less scarring after the procedure.

Mohs surgery has also been highly touted as one of the most effective treatments for skin cancer. Cure rates for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are as high as 99% when Mohs surgery is used. Other forms of treatment typically only yield an 80% success rate for previously treated cancers.

Types of Skin Cancer

Basal Cell Carcinoma

This type of cancer typically appears as a waxy bump in an area that receives plenty of sun exposure. It might also look like a flat brown patch, which can grow rather large.

Basal cell carcinomas have a high recurrence rate and may increase a person’s risk for other types of skin cancer in the future.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This is another cancer that usually appears on sun-exposed skin. However, this cancer can occur on other areas of the body as well. The cancerous cells may resemble a red bump or sore. They may become scaly and evolve into an open sore.

In most cases, squamous cell carcinoma is not aggressive, but if the cancer is left unchecked, it can grow quite large and eventually spread to other areas of the body.

Growth Patterns

Mohs surgery is also effective for treating cancers that are unusually large or feature aggressive growth patterns. This procedure is also used on cancers with a high recurrence rates or tumors that appear around sensitive areas of the face like the nose, ears and eyes.

Malignant Melanoma

Dr. Arlette is recognized internationally for his pioneering research in the use of MMS for melanoma of the face.

About Mohs Surgery

Dr. Arlette performs Mohs Surgery in Calgary as an outpatient procedure using a local anesthetic. First, Dr. Arlette uses a scalpel to excise the obvious cancerous tissue as well as a thin layer of tissue around the cancer. That tissue is then examined under a microscope to determine whether the outermost tissue contains cancer cells. If cancer cells are detected, Dr. Arlette removes another thin layer of skin cells and looks at those under the microscope.

Mohs Surgery is painstakingly repeated until no cancer cells are detected in the removed tissue. Dr. Arlette takes his time with the procedure to ensure he does not remove any more healthy tissue than is absolutely necessary to completely eliminate the cancer. Once all the cancer is successfully removed, Dr. Arlette completes the surgical repair to make the treated area as aesthetically pleasing as possible.

Since Mohs Surgery is one of the oldest and best known methods for treating skin cancer, it is also considered relatively safe. As with any surgery, potential risks include infection, excessive bleeding and pain around the surgical site. As one of the leading experts in Mohs surgery in the Calgary area, Dr. Arlette offers his patients expertise and experience in this skin cancer treatment.

After your Mohs Surgery, recovery time is usually 2-4 weeks and primarily entails caring properly for the wound so that is heals properly. Follow-up visits may be needed to monitor the wound and remove stitches. In most cases, Mohs Surgery in Calgary treats the skin cancer in a single session and no further treatment is required.

Once the cancer is fully removed through Mohs Surgery, the wound is repaired using one of the following methods:

  • Allowing the wound time to heal
  • Closing the wound with sutures
  • Covering the wound with a skin graft
  • Creating a skin flap to cover the wound

Candidates for Mohs Surgery

The best candidates for Mohs surgery in Calgary are patients who have one of the following:

    • Skin cancer that has returned
    • Large or aggressively-growing cancer
    • Cancer located in areas of cosmetic concern

    • Cancerous patches without well-defined edges
    • Cancer located in scar tissue
    • Patients who want the best possible skin cancer therapy

Mohs Surgery FAQs

What is Mohs Surgery For?

Mohs surgery is frequently recommended for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. It might also be used to treat aggressive or large cancers, cancer without a defined border or those with a high recurrence rate.

What are the risks of Mohs Surgery?

Mohs surgery has been performed since the middle of the 19th century, so the risks associated with this procedure are relatively minimal today. Common risks of any surgical procedure include infection, pain and excessive bleeding.

However, these risks are fairly small if patient choose a physician like Dr. Arlette who is experienced in the Mohs procedure.

What is the Mohs Surgery procedure like?

Mohs surgery in Calgary, at Total Skincare Centre, is performed as an outpatient under local anesthetic. The total procedure time usually takes about four hours, including time for analysis of tissue between excisions. Some patients may take longer if the cancer is unusually large or deep.

Is Mohs Surgery painful?

Mohs surgery is performed with local anesthetic, so the patient does not feel anything during the procedure. Some patients report mild discomfort at the surgical site after treatment, but this can usually be managed effectively with over-the-counter pain medication.

What is the recovery time for Mohs Surgery?

Patients are able to return to normal activities within a day or two after Mohs surgery. However, it typically takes 2-4 weeks to allow the wound time to heal properly. Patients will need to use care during that time not to injure the wound while it is healing.

What is the success rate of Mohs Surgery?

Mohs surgery has some of the highest success rates of any skin cancer treatment. Patients getting cancer treatment for the first time may see a cure rate of up to 94%.

For more information about treating skin cancer,

Contact the skincare experts at Total Skincare Centre in Calgary.