A CLINIC has been introduced at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in a bid to provide “gold standard” treatment for certain skin cancers.

The Mohs Clinic has been introduced at the hospital's Day Surgery Unit to remove skin cancer and provide treatment at a very high cure rate while sparing as much healthy tissue as possible.

It utilises Mohs micrographic surgery, also known as margin controlled excision, which is a highly specialist surgical technique often used to remove skin cancers on the scalp, face, lip, ear and neck areas.

It requires the expertise of plastic surgeons, pathologists and healthcare scientists who work together to remove, prepare and examine skin tissue to ensure all the cancerous cells have been removed.

This specialist treatment is currently only available in four centres in Scotland, including Forth Valley, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh with only eight consultant Mohs surgeons in Scotland who are able to carry out the highly specialist procedure.

Two of those surgeons are at Forth Valley Royal Hospital where the clinic is equipped with a treatment room and dedicated laboratory.

This enables the skin tissue to be removed under local anaesthetic, with the tissue then prepared and examined in the same area.

Patients undergo the procedure at a single outpatient appointment and return home on the same day, normally after a few hours.

Wanda Charles, who was one of the first patients to be treated at the clinic, seven years ago had cancerous skin removed from her nose using traditional methods.

Unfortunately, the cancer returned and she received a referral to dermatology who made arrangements for her to be seen at the Mohs Clinic.

She said: “I attended a morning clinic and, after several rounds of removing tissue from my nose, the consultant was able to confirm that all the cancerous cells had been successfully removed, so it's unlikely I will have to return for more treatment in the future.

“I can’t praise the team at the new clinic highly enough for the quality of care I received.

"The treatment was very quick, they explained everything very thoroughly.

“I now have the peace of mind that all of the cancerous cells have been removed.”

The technique involves a surgeon removing skin tissue which is then taken to the on-site laboratory to be cut into thin sections which are then stained and mounted onto glass slides.

The slides are then examined under a microscope by a consultant pathologist for the presence of cancer cells at all edges of the tumour.

If cancer cells are seen, another thin layer is removed and checked with the process repeated until no more cancer cells are seen.

Mr Richard Clark, consultant plastic surgeon, added: “The Mohs Clinic allows us to deliver the gold standard service in skin cancer.

“We target the service to those most likely to benefit and the treatment means that we can remove as little tissue as possible while ensuring that no cancerous areas remain.

“This is particularly important for patients with cancer in very visible areas such as their face, ears, nose and neck to avoid disfigurement and causing potential issues with day-to-day functions such as eating and swallowing.

“All of the treatment can now be delivered during a single morning or afternoon session, whereas before patients may have required to undergo multiple surgeries over several months and more tissue may have had to be removed.”

The technique was developed in 1938 by general surgeon Frederic E Mohs to treat both common and rare types of skin cancer.