I had a small (3mm) raised pearly colored bump on my forehead for the past few months. My dermatologist removed it and sent if for a biopsy. It came back as a small basal cell carcinoma. When I spoke to my dermatologist's assistant, she said that I need to come back into the office to discuss Mohs surgery. I'm in a wedding in June and I have my 20 year college reunion in August. Can I wait until Spetember to have the Mohs surgery? I'd rather not have a mark on my face for either of these.
How Long Can I Wait Before Having Mohs Surgery?
Doctor Answers (5)
Scheduling your Mohs Surgery
As others have pointed out, its better to get your skin cancer surgery done sooner rather than later. Basal cell carcinomas tend to be slow growing, but they do grow. Talk to your dermatologist and see what is their opinion since there may be other factors that determine how quickly it should be done. Perhaps you could do it after the function in June and be ready for your reunion in August.
Basal Cell Cancer: To Wait or Not to Wait
As Dr. Hacker pointed out, most basal cell cancers (BCCA) are slow growing. However, there are variants like the morpheaform variety that are locally aggressive. My usual recommendation to patients is have it treated as soon as you possibly can after it is diagnosed. This helps prevent a guessing game as to where the biopsy site was. If for some reason you are unable to proceed with expeditious treatment, make sure you have a photograph of the biopsy site to show your Dermatologist or Mohs surgeon.
How long to wait for Mohs surgery of a basal cell carcinoma
This question should be answered by your dermatologist as the clinical presentation is as important as the pathology report. In addition, the type of pattern of growth, and the exact location on the forehead in relationship to the position of the nerves are all important aspects that the physician contemplates when making the decision about how safe it is to wait. Basal cell carcinoma typically grows slowly but there are exceptions.
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Mohs surgery is best performed within 6 weeks of cancer diagnosis
I usually recommend that my patients have their Mohs surgery within 6 weeks of the diagnosis of basal cell cancer, as the tumor will never be smaller than it currently is. Basal cell cancers are slow growing, however, and some can wait longer, depending on the size. I would speak with your surgeon right away to get a feel for the timing. Depending on when your event in June is, it is possible that your scar could be easily camouflaged by that time with a little makeup. That depends on the size of the tumor and how you typically heal, though.
Earlier is always better, but longer can be permissible in certain situations.
Basal cell cancer
Lucky for you basal cell cancers are typically slow growing. However, the size of the tumor is best evaluated by your dermatologist as they often look smaller on the surface than they are. I would also suggest discussing the practicality and timing of treatment with your dermatologist. Your situation is quite common and as long as you are informed of the consequences of deferring treatment such as enlarging size of the removal and the attendant consequences, then you can make an informed decision.
These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.