If melanoma is caught early enough, a process known as Mohs Micrographic Surgery holds hope that the cancer can be removed before it spreads and without disfigurement.
UAMS dermatologist and skin cancer surgeon Daniel Davis, M.D., is one of the few surgeons in Arkansas able to perform the surgery and he’s been doing it for nearly 20 years.
“The bottom line is that if the melanoma is spotted early, biopsied early and cut out early, then people do well,” he said.
Davis removes the skin lesion thin layer by thin layer, allowing him to trace and remove the deep roots while leaving healthy tissue unharmed. As he removes each layer, he immediately examines it under a microscope to determine if all cancer cells have been removed. There is no handoff to another doctor or technician to look at it under the microscope.
“That method where the biopsy is sent off has an 85 percent success rate,” Davis said. “But with the same physician cutting out the melanoma and examining it, there is a 99 percent success rate.”