Mohs micrographic surgery, named for Frederic Mohs, the surgeon who invented it, is the single most effective technique for removing basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, the two most common skin cancers. It’s also used to treat melanoma, a potentially deadly skin cancer.
At Aesthetic Dermatology and Skin Cancer: Jeffrey H. Binstock, M.D., we have extensive experience in performing Mohs micrographic surgery.
What We Know About Mohs and the Older Patient
Mohs surgery is performed on over 800,000 tumors per year in the United States, with approximately half performed on Medicare beneficiaries. A just published study of patients 75 years and older who underwent Mohs surgery reveals encouraging findings, as well as important takeaways for older people.
First, the clear majority (90%) of patients in this age group with skin cancer are highly functional and care for themselves. On average, they carry on normal activity, with minor or no signs or symptoms of disease. For people in their 8th decade of life, they do quite well.
However, lower functioning patients—disabled or require occasional of frequent assistance in performing daily activities—are likely to have larger, tumors with symptoms that negatively impact their lives.
The Bottom Line
Skin cancer is a common occurrence. Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung, and colon! Between 40% and 50% of Americans who live to age 65 will have either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma at least once. And yes, one type of skin cancer, melanoma, can be deadly if it spreads throughout the body.
Effective Mohs surgery is available. So, there’s no reason to allow skin cancer to slow you down. Most people in their 70s today are living active lives. An important part of their activity should include self-examination for odd-looking moles and spots on the skin (Photos). You should also see a dermatologist to determine if annual examinations in the doctor’s office are right for you.
For people who are disabled or require occasional of frequent assistance in performing daily activities, evaluation by a caregiver or doctor is even more important to ensure that tumors are detected before they grow large and further impair quality of life.
For more information about self-examination and treatment by experienced Mohs surgeons, contact Aesthetic Dermatology and Skin Cancer: Jeffrey H. Binstock, M.D. Dr. Binstock, USCF Fellowship Trained, and Dr. Layton will answer your questions. Call our San Francisco office at (415) 956-8686, or in Mill Valley call (415) 383-5475.