Mohs Surgery: Getting to the Root of Skin Cancer

Treating skin cancer, much like real estate, is all about location. For high-risk skin cancers or cancers on cosmetically sensitive areas like the nose, ears, face, hands, and shins, Mohs micrographic surgery is a tissue-sparing procedure that offers the highest possible cure rates. Mohs surgery is done in our office under local anesthesia in a single day, which means that patients are not put to sleep and that they don’t need special cardiac clearance or to discontinue their blood thinners before surgery.

The Mohs procedure involves surgically removing skin cancer layer by layer and examining the tissue under a microscope until healthy, cancer-free tissue around and under the tumor is reached. A Mohs surgeon is a board-certified dermatologist who has specialized training in treating high-risk tumors. The best Mohs surgeons are fellowship-trained for one to two years after completing their dermatology residency and are a cancer surgeon, pathologist, and reconstructive surgeon. Mohs surgery is the gold standard for the treatment of high-risk tumors and has the highest cure rate of all treatments for skin cancer – up to 99%.

Compared to the tissue processing with a traditional excision, which views 1% of the margin, Mohs surgery allows visualization of 100% of the margin, “If you have a 1,000-page book, with traditional excisions it’s like reading ten pages and trying to tell someone what the book is about,” said Dr. Christopher Wolfe, a Fellowship-trained Mohs and Reconstructive Surgeon at Florida State University College of Medicine. “With Mohs surgery, you are reading all 1,000 pages, which is critical when you are dealing with skin cancer.”

Dr. Wolfe graduated first in his class in medical school and was inducted into the Sigma Phi Honor Medical Society. He was Chief Resident during his dermatology residency and was inducted into the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. He has published over two dozen manuscripts in peer-reviewed medical journals and multiple book chapters on skin cancer. He has spoken at the American Academy of Dermatology’s annual conference.

A combat veteran, he was stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia, with the 3rd Infantry Division when he deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. There, he received the Presidential Unit Citation, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. He was also the recipient of the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, and the Expert Field Medic Award. He was awarded distinguished honor graduate at Air Assault School, 101st Airborne Division.

Dr. Wolfe’s patients come first; he personally calls every patient after surgery, and each surgical patient receives his cell phone number should they need him anytime day, night, or weekend.

Dr. Wolfe performs Mohs surgery at Thacker Dermatology every Friday. In August 2020, he will start full-time.

Written by: Betsy Perry Backe, MD, FAAD

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