Published on March 20, 2019

Latest in Skin Cancer Treatment

Mohs surgery is the most advanced, precise and effective treatment for skin cancer

Last year MaineGeneral Medical Center began providing the latest surgical technology to fight skin cancer: Mohs micrographic surgery, or Mohs surgery, which is offered in Augusta.

Mohs surgery is the most advanced, precise and effective treatment for skin cancer, offering the highest cure rates while preserving healthy tissue. Skin cancer is removed in stages, in the office, until all cancer has been removed.

MaineGeneral Medical Center (with MDFMR Dermatology Services) is the only Mohs providers in the Kennebec Valley.

“Mohs surgery is a great example of advanced care that has come to the Kennebec Valley because of MaineGeneral’s investments in technology and people,” said Dr. Steve Diaz, chief medical officer of MaineGeneral Health.

Recently, Debra Susi, a teacher at Maine Central Institute and respected director at the Waterville Opera House, experienced Mohs surgery firsthand, which started with a visit to a salon.

“The esthetician at the salon asked about two teeny-tiny, raised translucent spots, (almost wart-like in shape), one on my cheek and the other on my nose. She had a very worried look on her face,” Susi recalled. “She told me my two spots weren’t normal old-age growths and encouraged me to make an appointment with my doctor right away. Those words sent me running, not walking, to my primary care provider (PCP).”

Susi’s PCP was concerned and wanted to make sure that whoever was going to treat the area had the proper background/experience to deal with the spot. Her PCP then referred Susi to Dr. Dan Filitis, a Mohs surgeon with MaineGeneral Medical Center and MDFMR Dermatology Services.

“The Mohs procedure on my cheek was pretty straightforward - all of the cancer was eradicated in one stage and I was in and out of surgery within a few hours, Susi said. “My nose was a bit of a surprise for both patient and doctor. The procedure was long and more involved than originally anticipated - I entered at 9:30 a.m. and left at 7:15 that evening. Dr. Filitis and his team stayed with me every step of the way. I think it is safe to assume all of us were exhausted by the end. However, those words ‘cancer-free’ made the wait, the process and my long recovery worth every minute.”

When asked what she thinks of Dr. Filitis and his team, she said: “Professional, compassionate, educative and highly skilled. I had done a great deal of research beforehand (I am a teacher – that’s what we do!), but nonetheless, Dr. Filitis and his team made sure I understood what was happening each step of the way.

Susi is incredibly grateful she can say she is cancer-free and is feeling stronger every day. And, being a teacher first and foremost, she has some lessons to share. “Don’t assume only sunbathers get skin cancer. I have never been one to lie in the sun, yet I am the first in my family to be diagnosed with any type of cancer, skin or otherwise. Be aware of the cancer signs and symptoms and be proactive! One thing Dr. Filitis said that has stuck with me is many patients with skin cancer have ignored initial warning signs. He complimented me for noticing subtle changes and checking with my PCP.”

As Susi looks forward to a healthy future, she will forever be indebted and thankful for that gift certificate for a facial, the esthetician’s professional expertise and the team at MFDMR Dermatology Services that took care of her following her diagnosis. “If that esthetician hadn’t asked me to follow through with my PCP, who knows how this story might have ended?”

Learn more about Mohs surgery here or call 207-623-6680.