Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer/Mohs

One in five people in the U.S. will develop skin cancer which can affect anyone, regardless of skin color.

There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma (the two carcinomas are known as non-melanoma skin cancers), and melanoma.

Approximately 90% of all non-melanoma skin cancers are directly associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun. (The majority of these from sun damage received by the time we were in our teens). Daily sunscreen use (minimum of 30 SPF) could significantly reduce the incidence of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Higher melanoma rates among men may be due in part to lower utilization of sun protection.

Some people may develop actinic keratoses, which are rough, scaly patches/spots/lesions caused by exposure to UV radiation. A small percentage of these lesions may eventually become cancerous.

When caught early and treated properly, skin cancer is highly curable...
Regular self-skin exams and an annual total-body skin cancer exam by one of our Dermatology Experts are crucial in finding skin cancer early. In addition, if you notice a mole or skin lesion that changes, itches or bleeds, these could be early warning signs of a melanoma and should be checked by one of our experts. Make an appointment immediately.

You should expect your total-body skin cancer exam to be done in the same detailed manner as a complete physical exam by your primary care physician.

The survival rate for melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) is 99% when detected early but drops all the way to 15% in its more advanced stages.

Moles or growths that change, itch or bleed could be early warning signs of a melanoma and should be checked by one of our experts. Also, watch for the “ABCDEs” of Melanoma.

The ABCDEs of Melanoma
A is for Asymmetry: One half of the mole does not match the other half.
B is for Border irregularity: The edges are ragged, notched, or blurred.
C is for Color that varies from one area to another.
D is for Diameter: While melanomas are usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, they can be smaller.
E is for Evolving: A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape, or color.

Sources include: American Academy of Dermatology,, American Cancer Society, National Institutes of Health,

Skin Cancer Treatments
A number of treatments are available, including traditional surgery, scraping and burning, freezing, radiation, topical medications, and advanced Mohs micrographic surgery.

What is Mohs Surgery?
Mohs micrographic surgery is an advanced treatment for certain types of skin cancer - even if previous treatment has failed. This revolutionary treatment offers the highest potential for a cure, while also minimizing the cosmetic impact of treatment.

Mohs Surgery is named after Dr. Frederic Mohs, a surgeon who developed the technique in the late 1930s. It is a highly effective type of surgery that can remove skin cancers by excising layers of tissue one at a time. After each specimen is removed, it is examined by the Mohs surgeon under a microscope to determine whether cancer remains in the skin, and to precisely map any remaining cancer. If any cancer is left behind, the Mohs surgeon knows exactly where the additional tissue needs to be removed. Because of the precise microscopic mapping technique, only the diseased tissue is removed, thus sparing as much of the normal skin as possible.

What types of skin cancer can be treated by Mohs surgery?
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common cancer of the body. It rarely will spread to other parts of the body. While usually slow growing, it can spread quickly and deeply and destroy skin and other structures in its path. Basal cell carcinoma may appear as a small pimple or a shiny bump, or a bleeding sore that doesn’t heal.

Squamous cell carcinoma, like basal cell carcinoma, can cause extensive destruction of skin and tissue, but can also spread to nearby lymph nodes, and can occasionally spread to other parts of the body as well. Squamous cell carcinoma may appear as a rough, scaly area of skin or a larger growth.

Other Mohs-appropriate cancers:
Atypical Fibroxanthoma, Sebaceous
Carcinoma, and some other skin cancers
can also be treated by Mohs.

To schedule your annual total-body skin cancer exam, click here.