What is Mohs surgery?

Mohs surgery is a procedural treatment for skin cancers. A dermatologist specially trained in Mohs surgery and histopathology can perform this type of skin cancer treatment. With this technique, the skin cancer lesion is surgically removed, and then the tissue is processed and put on a slide that the doctor can examine under the microscope. If there are cancer cells remaining, another layer of tissue is removed and the process repeats until there are no remaining cancer cells. The surgical site is then closed using appropriate suturing reconstruction. This Mohs surgery technique ensures complete removal of skin cancer while also removing the least amount of non-cancerous tissue.

What are the advantages of Mohs surgery?

Mohs surgery offers the highest cure rate for skin cancer, 95-99%, while also preserving more healthy tissue and maintaining a better cosmetic appearance post-surgery than other treatment methods. In contrast, other treatment methods can typically have cure rates of 50-85%, especially for more aggressive skin cancers.

The reason Mohs surgery is so effective at treating skin cancer is because the technique allows for the evaluation of 100% of the surgical margin. It also allows the surgeon to detect any cancer cells that may typically be left behind with a excision type treatment. Another advantage to Mohs surgery is its relative safety profile, because the surgery performed using only local anesthesia rather than general anesthesia.

Why does my skin cancer need Mohs surgery?

Mohs surgery is used for many patients with skin cancer. Generally, all skin cancers on the head and neck, where the best cosmetic outcome is desired warrants Mohs surgery. In addition, certain aggressive skin cancer subtypes need to be treated with the Mohs technique to ensure that there are no remaining cancer cells after surgery.

Mohs surgery is indicated in the treatment of skin cancers:

  • located on or in close proximity to the nose, eyelids, lips, ears, scalp, hands, or feet
  • that are recurrent (have come back after being treated before)
  • that have aggressive pathology on the biopsy
  • that are large
  • that are rapidly growing
  • that cannot be clearly defined