By Dr. Renata Prado, Board-Certified Dermatologist, and Fellowship-Trained Mohs Surgeon
You have been diagnosed with skin cancer, and your doctor recommended a procedure called Mohs Micrographic Surgery. If this is the first time you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, let me start by saying that you are not alone. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, and it affects 1 in every 5 Americans. You certainly know someone who has been treated for it. Most cases of skin cancer are treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery was recommended to you among many other treatment modalities because your doctor considered several aspects of your skin cancer. The skin cancer’s type and its histologic subtype and its location and size. Mohs is indicated for the treatment of skin cancers that are either located in an area where maximum tissue conservation is important, or that are histologically aggressive.
Why is Mohs So Special?
Mohs is able to align two very desirable goals – complete removal of skin cancer, with minimal removal of the surrounding healthy tissue. Therefore, it is able to obtain exceptionally high cure rates AND superior cosmetic outcome. This remarkable procedure is available to us thanks to the vision of Dr. Frederick Mohs, who developed the technique in the 1930s. Dr. Mohs innovative approach was to evaluate 100% of the margins of the cancer excision. The process has been refined to the elegant technique we have today.
Mohs surgery is unique and effective because of the way the removed tissue is microscopically examined, evaluating 100% of the surgical margins. The pathologic interpretation of the tissue margins is done on site by the Mohs surgeon, who is able to correlate any microscopic findings with the surgical site on the patient. Because the American College of Mohs Surgery (ACMS) surgeon is specially trained as a cancer surgeon, pathologist, and reconstructive surgeon, Mohs surgery has the highest success rate of all treatments for skin cancer – up to 99%.
How Should I Choose a Mohs Surgeon?
I highly recommend that you look for a Mohs surgeon who completed an ACMS-approved fellowship. The ACMS was founded by Dr. Frederic Mohs. ACMS-fellows-in-training surgeons are board-certified dermatologists who undergo an additional 1-2 years of extensive, hands-on training with the direction from highly qualified instructors – an accredited, veteran ACMS surgeon. By choosing a fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon you can be assured that you will receive the highest standard of quality and competency, as well as an optimal outcome.
What Should I Expect from My Mohs Day?
The Mohs surgery may be summarized this way: the surgeon removes cancer, carefully checks to be sure he or she got it all, then repairs the wound after margins proved to be negative. During the time it will take for the tissue to be processed, you will have a temporary bandage. The patient may just relax, read a book, or be with a companion. It is difficult to estimate how many stages it will take to clear skin cancer, but most cases are cleared in one or two stages. After sutures are placed, you will receive detailed written wound care instructions. Your surgeon will ensure you can contact him/her in case of any questions.
At Vanguard, our Mohs surgeons also work with plastic surgeons. In some instances, a plastic surgeon may perform your reconstruction and that will happen on the same day.
Our goal is that our patients have the highest cure rate and the best cosmetic results.
Dr. Renata Prado is a board-certified Colorado Springs dermatologist and Mohs Surgeon. Dr. Prado specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers. She is part of Vanguard’s Colorado Springs dermatology practice in Briargate and Broadmoor.
Vanguard Skin Specialists began as a Colorado Springs dermatology practice and now has an additional office in Canon City, Pueblo, and Woodland Park. Vanguard specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer, and also offers general dermatology, plastic surgery, and aesthetic medicine.
Vanguard has two fellowship-trained Mohs surgeons in Colorado Springs and Pueblo: Dr. Renata Prado and Dr. Vinh Chung.