Patients Looking At Mohs Procedure To Eradicate Skin Cancer
Posted May 24, 2002 4:32 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — The next time you venture out in the sun, remember this. More than 100 million people worldwide will get skin cancer this year, but a surgical procedure has a high success rate.
Laura Hinkle grew up in sunny south Florida.
"[I was] always out in the sun. I played tennis, swim team at the beach all the time," she said.
A few months ago, Hinkle discovered a mole on her eyebrow that did not feel normal.
"When I washed it, I felt something scabby up here in my eyebrow," she said.
A biopsy showed it was skin cancer.
After years of sun exposure, skin cancer can appear anywhere on your body. Your face and neck are the most vulnerable. It is also one area where you do not want a big scar or a lot of skin removed.
Dr. Audrey Echt and other dermatologic surgeons use a technique called Mohs -- Micrographic Surgery to remove these kinds of tumors. The tissue-sparing technique has nearly a 100-percent cure rate.
"We take out the least amount of tissue to get the highest cure rate," she said.
Mohs was the ideal treatment for Hinkle's skin cancer. During the procedure, Dr. Echt marked where the tumor stops and starts. She numbed the area and cut it out completely.
She then sends the sample to the lab for processing.
"We have to see normal tissue around the outside," Echt said.
If not, Echt can remove more tissue.
"We can go back out, take a little bit more of that tumor and we continue that process or staging until it's completely removed," she said.
Hinkle needed a few stitches afterwards, but she was cancer-free.
"Once you leave this office, we know we've cured that tumor. That tumor will not come back," Echt said.
You are still at risk for additional skin cancers. Doctors said you should avoid prolonged sun exposure and wear sunblock with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Dermatologists recommend you get yearly skin checks and look out for any moles or discolorations that grow, itch or change color.
There are three types of skin cancer. The most common is basal cell carcinoma, which does not spread. Squamous cell carcinoma is a more serious form.
The deadliest type of skin cancer is malignant melanoma, which can spread to other parts of the body.