1. What is a basal cell (BCC) or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)?
These are both non-melanoma skin cancers that tend to occur is areas of sun damage. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer and squamous cell is the second most common. Sun exposure is a major risk factor. BCC does not tend to spread to distant sites but will continue to grow if left untreated causing severe local tissue destruction that can range from non healing ulcers to facial deformities. SCC has the potential to spread to distant sites if left untreated.
2. Can a BCC or SCC turn into a melanoma?
No, they originate from a different cell in the skin. However, then can be next door neighbors and occur in the same areas. Melanoma is the third most common form of skin cancer and can be deadly if left untreated. If caught early and removed, it may be cured. Dermatology Partners performs standard excisions with the appropriate margins or “slow mohs” on melanomas. Slow mohs is similar to regular mohs except that the tissue processes overnight rather than in an hour in the office lab.
3. What are the advantages of having mohs surgery done over a regular excision or other destructive methods?
Other skin cancer treatment methods blindly estimate the amount of tissue to treat, which can result in the unnecessary removal of healthy skin tissue and tumor re-growth if any cancer is missed.
Mohs surgery is unique and so 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 specially trained in the reading of these slides and is best able to correlate any microscopic findings with the surgical site on the patient. Advantages of Mohs surgery include:
- Ensuring complete cancer removal during surgery, virtually eliminating the chance of the cancer growing back
- Minimizing the amount of healthy tissue lost
- Maximizing the functional and cosmetic outcome resulting from surgery
- Repairing the site of the cancer the same day the cancer is removed, in most cases
- Curing skin cancer when other methods have failed
4. What does MOHS surgery stand for?
Mohs surgery is not an acronym. It is named after Dr. Frederic Mohs, who developed this technique in the 1930s. Since then it has been greatly modified and refined into the advanced technique that is used today.
5. How long will my surgery last?
The length of the surgery varies and depends on the extent of the skin cancer.You should expect to be in the office for most of the day. Most of your time will be spent in our private mohs waiting room while your tissue is in the lab undergoing processing. We provide warm and cold beverages and snacks, a TV, and have free WiFi.
6. What should I bring with me?
Feel free to bring reading material, a laptop or tablet, a friend or family member to keep you company, and some snacks.
7. What should I wear during my surgery?
Please wear comfortable and loose clothing. A button down shirt I recommended as it can be easily removed and put back on without disturbing any bandages.
8. Can I drive home after surgery?
We recommend you have someone drive you home if your skin cancer is located on your face. You will likely have a bulky pressure bandage applied after reconstruction which may obstruct your vision or prevent you from wearing your glasses. Your companion can stay with you in the office or pick you up when you are done. If you took an anxiolytic prior to surgery then we prefer you have a ride home as well.
9. Can I eat breakfast?
Feel free to eat breakfast prior to surgery and bring along some snacks as well. If you are referred for reconstruction later that day with another surgeon, you will have to check ahead of time with that surgeon if you are allowed to eat that day.
10. Can I take my medications the morning before surgery?
Please take all your medications unless we instructed you to stop something ahead of time (Please see pre-operative instructions about who should stop certain medications).
11. Do I need antibiotics before surgery?
Certain people who take antibiotics before dental visits and/or have a cardiac or joint implant may need pre-operative antibiotics. Please let your Mohs surgeon know ahead of time if you fall into this category.
12. Am I allowed to have surgery if I have a pacemaker or defibrillator?
Yes. Please inform the staff and doctor about your pacemaker ahead of time so we can use a special cautery device that will not interfere with your pacemaker.
13. How do I take care of my incision?
We will provide you with written wound care instructions before you leave our office and go through them with you in detail. You can also print out our postoperative care instructions of our website. Please call our office anytime if you have any problems with the wound or experience any pain after surgery. The doctors can be reached after hours via the paging system by calling our office.