Dr. Berman Answers Your Questions About Skin Cancer

Kevin Berman, MD, PhD Health Guide
  •  Skin Cancer Questions

    • If I have been diagnosed with skin cancer should I still be using sun screen or is it too late for me?

    • How is Mohs Surgery performed?

    If I have been diagnosed with skin cancer should I still be using sun screen or is it too late for me?

    It is never too late to use sunscreen as this is the best way to protect one self from further sun damage and future skin cancers. In many cases, it is the sun exposure from the remote past that has led to skin cancer development; however, the best defense against future sun damage and cancer is to practice responsible sun protection by aggressively applying sunscreen and wearing protective clothing. Skin cancer is caused by gene mutations induced by sun exposure. In some cases, the changes may remain dormant for years before cancer develops. In others, cancer can develops soon after mutating sun exposure. Furthermore, sunscreen and sun protection will protect the skin from premature wrinkles as well as other changes which make the skin appear “prematurely” aged.
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    How is Mohs Surgery performed?

    Mohs micrographic surgery is a specialized skin surgery which achieves the two goals of ascertaining complete tumor excision while sacrificing a minimal amount of normal surrounding skin. In Mohs surgery, the surgeon excises tumor and immediately evaluates the specimen under the microscope while the patient is still in the office. In traditional surgery, an excised specimen is sent to the lab and processed days after the surgery is complete. Thus, in traditions surgery, the area is stiched closed without knowing if the entire cancer has been removed. In Mohs, the pathology is evaluated while the surgery is in progress in order to ascertain that the margins are free of cancer and complete excision has taken place before the area is closed with suture. If they find tumor at the margin of a specimen, the surgeon the excises more tissue at this edge of the tumor until the entire cancer is excised. Mohs surgery is indicated for certain tumors (depending on size and type) or tumors located on the face where surgery ideally would remove only the cancer and minimal amounts of normal surrounding skin. Mohs surgery is performed under local anesthesia and the patient remains awake during the process. The typical Mohs procedure lasts several hours, with the major variable being how deep or wide the tumor is and how many times they must excise more tissue.
Published On: August 02, 2006