Options for skin cancer surgery in Mill Creek
Skin cancer is a potentially deadly, and unfortunately common, condition. For the vast majority of cases, surgical removal of the cancer is the best solution. The success of the procedure depends on many factors, including the specific type of cancer, the location, the patient’s health history, and the degree to which the tumor has progressed. Another important factor many patients are unaware of is the technique used to remove the cancer.
Common skin cancer surgeries
Some of the most common cancer removal surgeries include:
- Excision – This technique is similar to a biopsy, except a larger amount of tissue is removed.
- Curettage and electrodessication – In this procedure, the cancer is essentially scraped off of the skin and an electrical current (heat cautery) is used to kill any remaining cells.
- Cryosurgery – This method uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the tumor, thereby killing and removing the cancer.
Many dermatologists and other physicians perform standard cancer surgeries, such as excisions, which is appropriate for certain types of skin cancers on certain sites of the body. However, when performing an excision, the surgeon has to somewhat rely on guesswork in trying to estimate the true extent of the cancer. The physician estimates with the naked eye the degree to which the cancer has spread, and then removes what they consider to be an appropriate amount of tissue. Although such techniques can be successful, there are two potential problems. The first and most serious is the risk of misjudging the extent of the cancer. Some tumors grow more quickly and spread more than expected. If the surgeon does not remove enough tissue and leaves some cancerous cells, the tumor will return. The other potential problem is cosmetic, which can be especially concerning in areas such as the face. The surgeon may remove a bigger than necessary margin of presumed healthy tissue surrounding the cancer in order to try to reduce the risk of recurrence. However, this increases the size of the resulting surgical defect and therefore the length of the scar.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery
Mohs is a unique method of cancer removal. The most important factor that sets it apart from other treatments is the fact that checking for skin cancer at the surgical margins is performed during the procedure, so the surgeon knows they have all the cancer out, before closing the surgical defect. . This allows complete and precise cancer removal, leaving the surrounding healthy tissue intact. Mohs has the highest cure rate of skin cancer treatment, and gives the best cosmetic result.
Despite the many advantages, few doctors offer Mohs Micrographic Surgery. The reason is the extensive skills, training, and experience required to perform this delicate procedure. Dieter Schmidt, MD, FAAD, FACMS, of North Sound Dermatology, is a board-certified dermatologist who is also one of only very few fellowship-trained Mohs Surgeons in the county. He is a Fellow of the American College of Mohs Surgery.
If you have any questions about advanced skin cancer treatment, or if you would like to schedule an appointment at one of our five convenient locations please call us at 1-425-678-3653.