Mohs Micrographic Surgery
At Swann Dermatology, our skin cancer team is led by a board-certified dermatologist who is fellowship trained in Mohs skin cancer surgery for basal and squamous cell carcinoma. Dr. Michael Swann completed a fellowship in Mohs micrographic surgery at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California. Our staff is dedicated to the highest level of procedural dermatology care including advanced skin cancer management, Mohs surgery, reconstructive surgery, laser & cosmetic dermatology. Dr. Swann is the only physician in the Ozarks with fellowship training in Procedural Dermatology, which includes advanced training in Mohs micrographic surgery, reconstructive surgery, advanced cosmetic procedures including cosmetic lasers and leg vein treatments.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery is the most advanced and effective treatment procedure for skin cancer available today. The procedure is performed by specially trained surgeons who have completed at least one additional year of fellowship training (in addition to the physician’s three-year dermatology residency) under the tutelage of a Mohs College member.
Initially developed by Dr. Frederic E. Mohs, the Mohs procedure is a state-of-the-art treatment that has been continuously refined over 70 years. With the Mohs technique, physicians are able to see beyond the visible disease, to precisely identify and remove the entire tumor layer by layer while leaving the surrounding healthy tissue intact and unharmed. As the most exact and precise method of tumor removal, it minimizes the chance of re-growth and lessens the potential for scarring or disfigurement.
Because Dr. Swann is specially trained in surgery, pathology, and reconstruction, Mohs surgery has the highest success rate of all treatments for skin cancer – up to 99 percent. The Mohs technique is also the treatment of choice for cancers of the face and other sensitive areas as it relies on the accuracy of a microscopic surgical procedure to trace the edges of the cancer and ensure complete removal of all tumors down to the roots during the initial surgery.
About Mohs Micrographic Surgery: Effectiveness
Mohs Micrographic Surgery is an effective and precise method for treating basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. Because the Mohs Micrographic Surgery process features a systematic microscopic search that traces skin cancer down to its roots, it offers the highest chance for complete removal of the tumor while sparing the normal tissue surrounding it.
Clinical studies conducted at various national and international medical institutions – including the Mayo Clinic, the University of Miami School of Medicine and Royal Perth Hospital in Australia – demonstrate that Mohs surgery provides five-year cure rates up to 99 percent for new cancers, and 95 percent for recurrent cancers.
Why Does My Skin Cancer Need Mohs Surgery?
Mohs Micrographic Surgery is primarily used to treat basal and squamous cell carcinomas, but can be used to treat less common tumors including melanoma.
Mohs Surgery is appropriate when:
- The cancer is in an area where it is important to preserve healthy tissue for maximum functional and cosmetic result, such as face, eyelids, nose, ears, lips, fingers, toes, genitals
- The edges of the cancer cannot be clearly defined
- The cancer had aggressive features under the microscope
- The cancer was treated previously and recurred
- Scar tissue exists in the area of the cancer
- The cancer is large
- The cancer is growing rapidly or uncontrollably
The Mohs Micrographic Surgery Process
Mohs surgery is usually an outpatient procedure performed in a physician’s office. Typically, it starts early in the morning and can be completed the same day, depending on the extent of the tumor and the amount of reconstruction necessary. Local anesthesia is administered around the area of the tumor so the patient is awake during the entire procedure.
As the incidence of skin cancer soars, greater focus is currently being placed on the cost effectiveness of treatment. Over the past decade, studies have been conducted to calculate and compare the costs of Mohs Micrographic Surgery with those of traditional surgical methods. Studies cited in Journal Watch Dermatology show that Mohs surgery is no more costly than standard excision and less expensive than radiation therapy or excision in an ambulatory surgery center. Because the process of Mohs Surgery minimizes the risk of recurrence, it reduces and frequently eliminates the costs of larger, more serious surgery for recurrent skin cancers.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery is named after its founder and originator, Frederic E. Mohs, MD. As a medical student from 1929 to 1934, Dr. Mohs conducted cancer research projects while working for his mentor and zoology professor, Michael Guyer. Dr. Guyer was familiar with the preparation of frozen tissue for producing microscopic slides and had authored a book explaining how to harvest and process tissue for microscopic examination. The book focused on the need for examining, drawing and documenting discoveries that were made with the microscope.
These microscopic techniques were later used by Dr. Mohs to map out cancer around nerves, blood vessels, muscle and bone. The cancers he examined were removed by shave or saucerizing excision, a technique that removed cancer as a thin disc of tissue so that the tumor and the inflammatory white-cell infiltrate surrounding the cancer could be examined with the microscope. Dr. Mohs trained several dermatologists in the field, including Dr. Swann’s fellowship director. Dr. Swann has been practicing in Springfield, Missouri since 2008.