What You Need to Know About Skin Cancer and Mohs Surgery

DermSurgery Associates

Is it time for a professional cancer screening?

Dr. Leonard Goldberg.

DermSurgery Associates’ director and chief of surgery Dr. Leonard Goldberg.

In the United States in 2013, an estimated 1,660,290 new cases of cancer were diagnosed. The American Cancer Society estimates that 580,350 of these cases will end in death. The society projects that melanoma skin cancer accounted for 76,690 of the newly diagnosed cancer cases, with 9,480 deaths expected.

How skin cancer is detected

The good news is that with early detection, melanoma and other forms of skin cancer are very treatable with the right tests performed by trained dermatologists. For treating pre-cancerous spots, Photodynamic Therapy is an excellent mode of treatment.

Mohs surgery for skin cancer

When spots on the skin are diagnosed as melanoma, basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, swift action must be taken.  Mohs surgery is the treatment of choice in the majority of these cases.

Developed by Dr. Frederic Mohs at the University of Wisconsin in the 1930s, this surgical technique allows the Mohs surgeon to remove the cancer one tissue layer at a time, in stages.  Using a special dye, the tissue is marked and then examined to determine if further cancerous tissue exists and need to be excised.

Mohs surgery is unique in that it preserves as much normal and healthy tissue surrounding the cancerous tissue as possible.  It is performed under local anesthesia in an outpatient setting, with procedures typically lasting several hours.  The cure rate is high, compared with other forms of skin cancer treatment.  About Mohs surgery, SkinCancer.org says:

“Mohs surgery has come to be accepted as the single most effective technique for removing Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma . . . the two most common skin cancers.”

Types of skin cancer

Here’s a primer on the three primary forms of skin cancer.


  • Begins in pigment cells
  • Can be found on any skin surface
  • In men, most common on head, neck, between shoulders and on hips
  • In women, most common on lower legs, between shoulders and on hips

Basal cell carcinoma

  • Most common type of skin cancer
  • Originates in the basal cell layer of the skin
  • Often found in sun-damaged skin
  • The face is the most common location

Squamous cell carcinoma

  • Begins in squamous cells
  • Most common type of skin cancer in those with dark skin
  • In dark-skinned people, usually found on legs or feet
  • In fair-skinned people, most common areas are head, face, ears and neck

Melanoma is the most likely of the skin cancers to spread to other parts of the body.  Squamous cell cancer sometimes spreads; basal cell cancer rarely does.

Do I need a test?

As we age, spots on the skin are often part of the process.  It’s unlikely that every spot you notice is cancerous, but there’s no way to know for certain without proper screening procedures on a regular basis.  DermSurgery Associates provides highly accurate and rapid screening services for people of all ages who are concerned about spots on their skin.

To schedule a screening with Dr. Jih, Dr. White, Dr. Pang or Dr. Drosou, call DermSurgery at 713.791.9966.  Should you need treatment, Dr. Leonard Goldberg, Dr. Arash Kimyai-Asadi, Dr. Lucile White and Dr. Anna Drosou are all fellowship trained Mohs Surgeons who are available to provide treatment.  Dr. Leonard Goldberg, a world-renowned expert in this surgical process, is constantly in demand as a speaker and writer on the subject.

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DermSurgery Associates is a Greater Houston area dermatology practice offering cosmetic, surgical and non-invasive dermatology treatments and procedures with industry-leading physicians trained and experienced with the most current dermatology technologies and procedures.  For more information, contact

DermSurgery Associates
7515 Main, Suite 240
Houston, TX 77030



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