You are here

Center for Skin Cancer

Loyola's Skin Cancer and Mohs Micrographic Surgery Center is a comprehensive treatment center for skin cancer. An individualized and often multidisciplinary approach to skin cancer is taken to provide you with the most current, advanced and successful treatment.

Why Mohs Surgery?

More than 1 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. You and your family may be wondering, “What is the best treatment for my skin cancer?” While many options are available, you should understand the advantages of Mohs Micrographic Surgery. Many times, skin cancers can look innocent and small on the surface but actually have deep and wide “roots” that are not visible to the eye. If left untreated, skin cancer can progress. Prompt treatment can prevent disfiguring and potentially life-threatening consequences.

Mohs Surgery is a precise technique that offers:

  • Removal of all skin cancer cells at the margins
  • Highest potential cure rate – 99% for skin cancer
  • Minimal risk of recurrence
  • Protection of healthy tissue, superior cosmetic results and minimal scarring

The Expertise and Support You Need

When you have Mohs Micrographic Surgery at Loyola, you can be confident that you have a team of specialists, including a fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon backed by medical and surgical oncologists, reconstructive surgeons, radiologists and dermatopathologists who are available to participate in your care if your skin cancer is extensive. We go beyond the disease to treat the whole person.

Your Mohs Procedure

What happens during Mohs Surgery?
This specialized technique, which combines surgical removal of skin cancer with immediate microscopic review of the tissue, is performed in the office under local anesthetic. After marking and numbing the area, the Mohs surgeon will remove the visible part of the tumor along with a thin layer of skin around and below it. Dyes are used to map and pinpoint the malignant (tumor) cells on a microscope slide. If cancer cells are found under the microscope, the surgeon marks their location on the map and will remove an additional layer (only from where the skin cancer cells were found). This process of removing precise layers is repeated until all of the cancer is gone.

Because Mohs surgery only removes tissue containing skin cancer, it preserves the maximum amount of healthy skin. After the skin cancer is entirely removed, the wound will be reconstructed. We will discuss options and their advantages. For most cancers, the Mohs procedure and reconstruction can be performed on the same day.

After your procedure
Our staff will explain wound-care instructions to you. We will also schedule a follow-up visit to remove your stitches and make sure everything is healing properly. Routine skin examinations with your dermatologist are recommended to be on the watch for any new skin cancers. Statistics show that once you have one skin cancer, you are more likely to have a second cancer in the future due to past sun damage. Getting checked regularly by your dermatologist every six months improves the chances of rapid detection and treatment of a new skin cancer at an early stage.

If you have more questions about Mohs, we have the answers.

Q: Why did my doctor recommend Mohs surgery?
A: Mohs surgery is often done on tumors in highly visible and sensitive areas such as the nose, eyelids or lips. Mohs surgery also works well for large areas of skin cancer, when the edges of the tumor are unclear, and for cancer that was previously treated or is fast growing.

Q: How effective is Mohs surgery against cancer?
A: Mohs surgery enables a five-year cure rate of up to 99 percent for new cancers and up to 95 percent for recurring cancers.

Q: Why does Mohs surgery require doctors to have special training?
A: During an extra year of training, a dermatologist learns the surgical technique for removing skin tumors, pathology to study tumors microscopically and map them, and reconstruction to restore the skin where the tumor was removed. Your specialist at Loyola has earned certification from the American College of Mohs Surgeons.

Q: How long will my Mohs surgery take?
A: You can expect to arrive in the morning and spend almost a whole day to complete the surgery and reconstruction.

Q: Will I have a scar?
A: Any type of surgery for skin cancer leaves a scar. During reconstruction, your surgeon will work to minimize any scar and will discuss how to get the best possible result. If you need a skin graft, the surgeon may use a small section of skin from someplace unnoticeable, such as behind your ear. Laser or a resurfacing procedure may be performed to enhance the end result.

Q: How do I know you removed all the cancer?
A: Mohs surgery is specially designed to allow surgeons to discover, map and remove the tiny roots of skin tumors that can cause them to recur. Surgery continues until there is no evidence of cancer at the microscopic level.