Originally developed in the 1930s, Mohs micrographic surgery has been refined into the most advanced, precise and effect treatment for an increasing variety of skin cancer types. With the Mohs technique, physicians can precisely identify and remove an entire tumor while leaving the surrounding healthy tissue intact and unharmed. Mohs surgery has the highest success rate of any cancer treatment currently available.
The Mohs procedure involves surgically removing skin cancer layer by layer and examining the tissue under a microscope until healthy, cancer-free tissue around the tumor is reached. (This is called “clear margins.”) It is performed after numbing medication is injected around the skin cancer.
Four of our dermatologists are specifically trained in Mohs surgery. It is performed as an outpatient procedure in our office and is usually completed in one day, outside of any reconstructive surgery necessary. Local anesthesia is administered around the area of the tumor and the patient is awake during the entire procedure. After the area has been numbed, the Mohs surgeon removes the visible tumor along with a thin layer of surrounding tissue. The tissue is prepared and put on slides, and then examined under a microscope. If there is evidence of cancer, another layer of tissue is taken from the area where the cancer was detected. This ensures that only cancerous tissue is removed during the procedure.
These steps are repeated until all samples are free of cancer. When the surgery is complete, the dermatologist will assess the wound and discuss options for cosmetic reconstruction however this is not always necessary. Mohs surgery is often recommended by dermatologists for specific skin cancers including those that develop on areas where preserving cosmetic appearance (like the face) is
Also, Mohs may be recommended when skin cancers have recurred after previous treatments, are located in scar tissue, are large or have edges that are ill-defined, or are growing rapidly.
Reprinted with permission from the American College of Mohs Surgery website