What people want in the treatment of skin cancer

A recent study published in the medical journal, Dermatologic Surgery investigated patient preference in the treatment of the most common type of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma. They reviewed six studies on the subject.

In four of the six studies, recurrence of the tumour was rated the most important attribute. Cosmetic appearance of the area after treatment was rated most important in one study, and the second most important in three studies.

This information is not surprising but highlights the utility of Mohs micrographic surgery for appropriately selected skin cancer lesions. Mohs surgery offers the lowest recurrence rates for these cancers and because it also specifically allows for the sparing of normal surrounding tissue, the defect size and subsequent reconstruction/scar can be minimised for the best cosmetic result. Additionally, recurrent tumours will require further surgery at a later date resulting in a larger defect and reconstruction. Also, recurrent tumours are more difficult to clear, have lower cure rates, and are more technically difficult to reconstruct.

Therefore, the first chance to treat is always the best chance to minimise the recurrence rate, and maximise the cosmetic outcome.