Skin cancer is the most common cancer in men and women in the world. Specifically the two common subtypes are called basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Fortunately, skin cancers such as these are very treatable, especially when done early.
Since facial skin cancers are treatable, early detection is important. Once detected there are several options for treatment. The mainstay of therapy is removal of the cancer.
There are two methods in which this is performed:
1) Wide Local Excision- The cancer is removed taking additional skin around the visible portion of the cancer as a margin to ensure that any microscopic cells are removed. This is a good option where additional skin can be removed without consequence and reconstruction is not a concern. When considering facial skin cancers, such is the case in areas such as the cheek and / or neck.
2) MOHS Surgery-MOHS surgery is a process by which the physician removes the visible skin cancer. While you are still in the office, he / she will look at the borders of the removed cancer under the microscope to determine if more skin needs to be removed in order to completely remove the cancer. Once all of the cancer is removed, repair of the skin defect is considered.
MOHS surgery is beneficial in areas of the face where reconstruction is more difficult. This way the smallest possible amount of skin is removed while safely still removing all of the cancer. Cure rates using the MOHS micrographic surgical technique by a qualified MOHS surgeon are quoted to be as being as high as 99%.
Since the head and neck is such a visible area, repair of the MOHS or cancer defect is an essential consideration when treating skin cancers. This is often performed by a facial plastic surgeon that works closely with a MOHS surgeon. There are many options for MOHS repair that are beyond the scope of this article. You may visit http://www.drsteiger.com/procedures/reconstruction.html for more information relating to reconstruction.
Remember, the key to treating skin cancer is early detection. You should perform self skin checks and visit your dermatologist for a full body skin examination.