Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
A new procedure at Sacred Heart is more effective at removing the cancerous tissue. It's called Mohs surgery.
Ron Halstead recently scratched what he thought was a mole on his ear and then it ripped in two.
He said, "I had a mole behind my ear, with the hearing aids, it started to itch. I caught it with my fingernail and ripped the mole off."
He didn't think it was a big deal until he went to his regular doctor for a check up and they told him to immediately get it checked out. He booked an appointment with Dr. Rahul Chavan.
He was diagnosed with skin cancer.
He was given his options and Dr. Chavan recommended Mohs surgery. It's new at Sacred Heart.
Dr. Chavan claims it's more effective and doesn't take as much tissue as the traditional excision method.
The doctor takes a biopsy and makes extremely thin layers of the tumor. Those layers are then dyed and examined until the last layer shows tissue that is 100 percent cancer free. This way they know they got all of it.
Dr. Chavan said, "Mohs surgery is a technique that allows us look at the tumor from all different aspects, from top, bottom, from all around the tumor. So while the patient waits, the tissue is being processed."
Dr. Chavan explains that traditionally tumors are cut out and the tissue is sent to a pathologist. The patient leaves the office simply hoping they got it all.
With this procedure, Halstead was able to get it removed and know it was gone for good, all in the same day.
Halstead said, "That means a whole lot."
Dr. Chavan mostly uses this technique in what he calls "cosmetically sensitive" areas.
"Areas like the face," Dr. Chavan explained. "Think about how we treat the tumor, a tumor on the nose, on the scalp, on the back of the hand."
He says it has 98 to 99 percent success rate. The only downside is patients have to wait while they process the tissue and that can take up to several hours.
However Dr. Chavan said it's worth it to have the peace of mind they got it all.