September 26, 2022 by Peter B. Laird
Miami Cancer Institute Opens Mohs Surgery Clinic for Skin Cancer Treatment
Miami Cancer Institute has opened its Mohs Surgery Clinic ― an important move in providing access to the most sophisticated care with the highest cure rates for skin cancer patients, according to specialists at the Institute who treat the disease.
The timing couldn’t be better, with summer around the corner and Florida’s beaches and pools beckoning. Although skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, it is also the most common. Approximately one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, and melanoma, the most deadly skin cancer, has been on the rise with cases doubling in the past two decades.
“Offering the Mohs procedure onsite means that we minimize the need for invasive surgical intervention,” says Michael Raisch, M.D., dermatologic oncologist and Mohs surgeon. “The technique allows us to remove microscopic layers of skin and tissue that we can immediately examine under the microscope. We can repeat the process during a single visit until no cancer cells remain. Because of the precision involved, we spare healthy tissues and improve the chances of a cure.”
Mohs is commonly used to treat squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma ― and sometimes melanoma. It is often recommended when the cancer is located on the face, scalp, ears or nose, but it is also used on other areas of the body, including hands and feet and genitals. Doctors often suggest Mohs, also called micrographic surgery, when the magnitude of the cancer isn’t known, or the cancer is identified as a type that is apt to recur.
“Because we can verify that all cancer cells are removed, we increase the chance of a cure, which is up to 99 percent with Mohs,” Dr. Raisch says. Additional benefits include fewer anesthesia complications (since local numbing is used), less scarring and a faster recovery when compared with more invasive surgery.
How It’s Performed
At the clinic appointment, the area will be numbed with local anesthesia. A sliver of tissue is removed, frozen and stained with a specific dye so that it can be viewed under a microscope. Additional layers are removed until no cancer cells can be seen under the microscope. Small areas may be left open to heal on their own. Others may require sutures and bandaging. Healing typically occurs over several weeks.
The procedure was developed at the University of Wisconsin in the 1930s by general surgeon Dr. Frederic Mohs and has been refined over the years. While it can be done in a physician’s office, a patient who comes to the Mohs Surgery Clinic at Miami Cancer Institute receives comprehensive care from a dedicated Mohs team, including dermatologists and oncologists, dermatologic surgeons, histotechnologists (specially trained lab personnel who prepare tissue for microscopic examination) and medical assistants.
“I am very grateful that we have an onsite Mohs clinic at Miami Cancer Institute,” says Dr. Raisch, an expert in the field who completed a residency in dermatology at Duke University Medical Center and then a fellowship in micrographic surgery and dermatologic oncology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “It takes considerable resources and teamwork to launch a program like this, but it is for the betterment of our entire community.”
Skin Cancer Prevention and Awareness
May is National Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness Month. The Mohs team reminds you that to reduce your chances of developing any type of skin cancer, you should:
- Avoid the sun as much as possible (particularly between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.)
- Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30+ and reapply it frequently
- Wear protective clothing and sunglasses
- Never utilize indoor tanning beds
A change in the shape, color, size or feel of an existing mole may be your first warning sign of skin cancer. See your primary care physician or dermatologist if you have a spot that doesn’t heal, is scaly or bleeds; if a mole is asymmetrical or its borders are jagged, if the color is uneven or if it is larger than a pea. Skin cancer can occur anywhere in the body, not only in areas exposed to the sun.