Skin cancer is no laughing matter. Being the number one type of cancer in the United States, we are all well aware of the havoc skin cancer can wreak. Fortunately, Mohs micrographic surgery has emerged as one of the most successful cancer treatment options available. With a 99% success rate, Mohs is quickly becoming the treatment option of choice.
Yet, as any surgeon would tell you, surgery on the scalp is a very difficult operation. Though Mohs surgery on your scalp can prove to be successful, it is difficult to perform, with its own set of risks. If you have developed skin cancer on your scalp, you must wonder if Mohs surgery is right for you. We’ll breakdown what Mohs is and whether or not you make a good candidate for scalp surgery.
Developed by Frederic E. Mohs, Mohs micrographic surgery is a procedure in which a skilled surgeon uses a scalpel to cut away layers of cancerous skin tissue. These tissues are examined and evaluated for cancer cells. If cells are present, the surgeon will return to the patient and remove another layer of tissue until the cancer is no longer present in the samples. This procedure is used to treat both common and uncommon skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and even various types of melanoma.
As we mentioned, scalp surgery is no easy feat. According to The Dermatology Times, “one difficulty in processing scalp tissue is that when the periosteum is removed ‘it’s very thin and prone to come out of the parallel plane. So it can be tough to cut complete sections…’” Once the cancerous tissue is completely removed, an open wound is left behind. In typical procedures, let’s say procedures of the arms, torso or legs, these wounds can be stitched closed. If it is a large wound, the surgeon may recommend minor skin grafting to close it up. The procedure of the scalp, however, is not as simple.
DermatologyTimes explains this by saying “...[T]he galea is a thick, inelastic, fibrous band of tissue, ‘It can make closure very difficult. So one must mobilize tissue from areas where the skin is thinner and looser.’” They also explain that “[a]nother problem when working on the scalp is that when you get down into the bone, it doesn’t heal well by secondary intention.’” There’s a lot of medical terms there, but the gist of it is that the scalp is very delicate and fragile. Nonetheless, even with the difficult process of scalp surgery, a skilled surgeon can keep the success rate of Mohs high and successfully operate as necessary.
It is rare to find skin cancer on the scalp simply due to the fact that it is typically protected by our hair or hats. It is still possible, however, and Mohs is a perfectly suitable option; that is, if you are a good candidate. A good candidate for Mohs surgery includes patients who have fast-growing or recurring tumors, tumors that were detected early and individuals who do not suffer from any bleeding disorders.
Circumstances vary from person to person and your candidacy can only be proven by speaking with a medical professional.
If you are in Cincinnati, Ohio, our experts at The Dermatology Group can help you determine your candidacy and find out if Mohs surgery can be used on your scalp. Give us a call and book a consultation today!