Newport Beach


How Can Mohs Skin Cancer Surgery Help?

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| The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

While skin cancer is treatable and offers an excellent prognosis, the initial diagnosis is frightening as any cancer is still cancer. Specifically, there are three types of potential skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. And there are various ways to treat these forms of cancer. One of these is a highly specialized form of surgery known as Mohs surgery.

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How Does Mohs Surgery Differ From Traditional Methods?

The majority of skin cancer diagnoses require a surgical procedure to ensure that all traces of the cancer are removed. In traditional skin cancer surgery, both the tumor and the margin (the area around the skin cancer in close enough proximity for the cancer to spread) is excised with a scalpel. The wound is usually then closed in an “elliptical fashion.” The linear closure and subsequent scar is then three times the diameter of the removal to eliminate puckering or “dog ears” at the edges of the incision. In addition, it can take a week to obtain a definite pathology result. If the cancer has not been totally removed, further surgery may be necessary. By removing the tumor and the margin this way, a wider excision may be used, which can leave a longer and deeper scar.

Mohs surgery is an outpatient procedure that treats skin cancer lesions with the highest cure rates of any skin cancer treatment. During this procedure, a local anesthetic is applied. After this, the visible skin cancer is removed as well as a very thin layer of surrounding tissue. This extra thin layer of tissue is immediately examined under a microscope to determine if any additional skin cancer unnoticeable to the naked eye is present. Since this examination period can take anywhere from one to two hours to complete, we recommend that you bring an iPad, a book, or friend to occupy your waiting time.

Once the results on the surrounding tissue come back, Dr. Hung can determine if an additional layer of tissue needs to be removed. If there are no traces of cancer in the tested tissue, then you are ready to go; however, if there are traces, an additional amount of tissue will be removed; this process is repeated until no cancer remains. Dr. Hung removes the smallest amounts of tissue possible with each pass to ensure that no tissue is removed that doesn’t need to be. This process also allows for the smallest scar and most comfortable recovery period, and because the layers of tissue are examined right away, you can feel assured that no traces of skin cancer will go unnoticed. This is why Mohs surgery has the highest cure rates of any form of skin cancer treatment.

If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer on your face or neck, Mohs surgery might be an option for you. Dr. Hung is triple board certified in internal medicine, dermatology, and plastic surgery. Contact Dr. Hung by calling his Pasadena office at (626) 432-5032 or his Newport Beach office at (949) 574-8292 to set up a consultation.