Bruce Plopper is back in his dermatologist's exam room. Dr. Scott Dinehart has seen Bruce regulary for twenty years. He's removed several cancers in that time and is now concerned about a suspicious area on his patient's forehead.
He'll perform what's called Mohs surgery. Named after the doctor who developed it. Under local anasthetic a pie-shaped area is removed and taken to the lab. In minutes it's sectioned, mapped, and put under the microscope.
"Theres one little piece on the edge of the crust right here... "
Dr. Dinehart can see instantly how much of the cancer has been removed.
"i've got 95 percent of it out with the first cut... which is good."
It's basal cell... the most common form of skin cancer. The remaining area is removed in the same visit. Dr. Dinehart has done this countless times because many of his patients like Bruce got far too much sun when they were younger.
"From age 15 to 18 i spent a lot of times out on the water teaching tourists how to water ski," says patient Bruce Plopper.
Basal cell and squamous cell cancers develop because of the cumulative effect of the sun.
"You can tell people that all day, but when they're young and feel immortal it's really hard to change their behaviors," Dr. Scott Dinehart adds.
Mohs surgery assures that all the skin cancer is completely removed... increasing the chances or cure or recurrence dramatically.
"It's very reassuring that it can be done quickly and completely and I've never had a recurrence."
After Mohs surgery Dr. Dinehart can be confident when Bruce leaves today he won't be taking skin cancer with him.