First Lady Jill Biden will be undergoing surgery Wednesday after doctors found a “small lesion” above her right eye, her press secretary Vanessa Valdivia said.
The lesion was found during a routine skin cancer examination, and Biden will be having Mohs surgery to have it removed at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Here’s how the surgery works.
What is Mohs surgery?
Mohs surgery, a procedure developed in the late 1930s by surgeon Frederic Mohs, is considered an effective treatment for removing basal and squamous cell carcinomas, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Basal cell carcinomas are the most common type of skin cancer, but they grow slowly, so are typically mild and can be very treatable if detected early. Squamous cell carcinomas are the second-most common types of skin cancer and have rapid growth, but are curable when treated early, the foundation said.
First, surgeons will typically mark the site of a patient’s biopsy and anesthetize the area to numb it. Patients are kept awake during the procedure.
The doctor then removes a visible layer of skin tissue from the area and takes it to the lab to be analyzed. There, they cut the tissue into sections, dye it and map out the area it was taken from. A technician freezes the tissue, further slices it thinly into horizontal sections and places it under a microscope for examination.
If cancer cells are present, another layer is removed from the surgical site and the process repeats itself until the cancer cells are gone.
Biden has been a vocal advocate for fighting cancer
Biden said in an interview with Robin Roberts that she had four friends simultaneously diagnosed with breast cancer, one of whom died, and has urged more funding to go toward the disease.
“It’s the responsibility of the federal government to make sure that all communities have access,” she said.
She has also appeared in several campaigns for the National Cancer Institute.