Mohs micrographic surgery is a widely performed procedure used to treat various types of skin cancer. But how can you tell if you need Mohs on your scalp? Here's what you need to know.
As mentioned above, Mohs surgery is a common treatment for multiple types of skin cancer. Its effectiveness at treating skin cancer is a result of the process by which the surgery is performed. Unlike a traditional excision, Mohs consists of a series of tissue extractions. After the first extraction, the tissue is mapped out as cancerous or healthy. Once your surgeon has this map, they begin systematically removing layers of tissue and examining them in an on-site lab to determine whether or not each successive layer of tissue is cancerous or healthy. Once the tissue samples reveal only healthy tissue, the procedure ends. By using this method, your surgeon can preserve as much healthy tissue as possible. And if you need Mohs on your scalp, that's definitely something you're going to want.
If you or someone in your family has a history of skin cancer, it's a good idea to invest in regular skin cancer screenings. Finding a cancerous spot on your scalp is difficult enough as it is. If you don't know what to look for and you're only completing self-screenings at home, it's possible you could miss something your dermatologist would see in a regular screening. One of the best ways to tell if you have early signs of skin cancer or need Mohs on your scalp is to invest in regular skin cancer screenings at your dermatologist's office. One skin cancer screening annually or every two years is typically a good pace.
Irregular moles are one of the earliest telltale signs of skin cancer. If you have a mole anywhere on your scalp that you can see and you start to notice changes in it, you could be exhibiting early signs of skin cancer. If you're not sure what kind of irregularities you should be looking for, follow the ABCDE rule for mole evaluation. The letters stand for the following qualities in a mole:
Asymmetry - If a mole is asymmetrical or oddly shaped, it could be indicative of cancerous tissue.
Borders - Jagged or hard-to-define borders on a mole are another warning sign of cancerous tissue.
Color - Moles should be all one color and a color that is similar to other moles on your body. Any changes in coloration or irregularly-colored moles should be examined by a dermatologist for cancerous tissue.
Diameter - Most moles are fairly small in diameter. Any mole that has a diameter much larger than other moles on your body could be a sign of cancer.
Evolving - Normal moles will stay the same over time. They won't change in size, shape, color, texture, or height. If you notice that a mole is evolving in any of those ways, it's likely a sign of cancer.
Undergoing Mohs micrographic surgery on your scalp requires careful assessment, especially from your dermatologist. If you have questions or want to know if Mohs surgery is right for you, don't hesitate to set up an appointment with a member of our team at North Pacific Dermatology today.