Affinity is one of the few health care providers in Northeast Wisconsin offering Mohs micrographic surgery for skin cancer treatment.
Skin cancer, the uncontrolled growth of skin cells, is the most common form of cancer in the United States. While skin cancer is usually very treatable, if left untreated it can spread from the skin into other organs and tissue. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. Melanoma is less common, but more deadly. Early treatment is the key to successful skin cancer treatment.
Anyone is at risk for skin cancer, but certain traits and habits increase risk, including:
- light-colored skin, hair and eyes
- family history of skin cancer
- age over 40
- sun exposure and sunburn, or exposure to other ultraviolet radiation
Sun exposure is the primary risk factor for skin cancer. To protect your skin from the sun, wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and hats, avoid sun exposure during mid-day and use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher year-round.
How to perform a skin self-examination.
Skin cancers can have a variety of appearances, which makes them easy to overlook. Examine your skin regularly, and familiarize yourself with any spots or moles on your skin. If you see any mole or marking that appears suspicious, see your doctor. Primary warning signs include “ABCD”:
- Assymetry – one side of the area appears different from the other
- Borders – the outside shape of the abnormal skin area is irregular
- Color – the skin area includes a variety of colors such as tan, brown, white, black red and even blue
- Diameter – spots larger than 6 mm (size of a pencil eraser)
Tests and Procedures
Your doctor will choose the best skin cancer treatment plan for you based on a number of factors, including type of cancer and location on the body. Common skin cancer procedures include:
- Mohs surgery
- sentinel node surgery – removal and examination of the sentinel node, the first lymph nodes to which cancer cells are likely to spread
- elliptical excision – excision of moles and underlying skin
- electrodesiccation and curettage – scraping or burning off growths
Mohs Micrographic Surgery at Affinity
Mohs micrographic surgery is an advanced treatment for skin cancer based on microscope technology. This state-of-the-art surgery offers the highest cure rate for skin cancer – up to 99 percent, even when other forms of treatment have failed. During Mohs surgery, the doctor acts as surgeon, pathologist and reconstructive surgeon. A microscope allows the doctor to remove the entire tumor, even beyond the visible disease. The precise nature of Mohs surgery minimizes the chance of regrowth and leaves healthy tissue unharmed. Doctors most often use Mohs surgery to treat the two most common forms of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.