Mohs surgery is the most precise technique used to excise skin cancer. It is the treatment of choice for most high risk basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and several other types of skin cancer.
During Mohs surgery, the skin cancer is excised in stages. In the first stage, the surgeon removes a small margin of normal skin around the visible tumor. This sample is processed by a histotechnologist in a way that allows the entire margin to be seen. The surgeon then examines the microscopic margins to determine if any skin cancer is still present. If there is remaining skin cancer, the surgeon uses a color coded system to excise the cancerous cells in the precise location where they remain. This process is repeated until all of the cancer is removed. Once the cancer in removed, the surgeon closes the surgery site.
Mohs surgery offers the highest success rate of all types of skin cancer treatment. If performed by a fellowship trained Mohs surgeon, the cure rate with Mohs surgery approaches 99%.
What does Mohs stand for?
Mohs is actually not an acronym. The procedure was named after Dr. Frederic Mohs who developed it in the 1930s
Do I still need to have Mohs surgery done if it seems most of my skin cancer was removed with biopsy?
Yes. Biopsy can remove the top portion on your skin cancer, but there are likely more cancer cells beneath the surface of your skin. Even if you can’t see or feel any cancer left, your cancer may regrow if not treated.
How can I prepare for my Mohs surgery?
Mohs surgery may take all day. There is a lot of waiting involved between stages. Please block off your schedule for the day. We also recommend you bring some reading material. It’s important to wear loose fitting clothing and a button front shirt if the area being treated is on the scalp, face, neck, trunk, or arms. If the area is located around the eyes, it may be necessary to bring a driver.
Why is it important to see a fellowship trained Mohs surgeon?
Fellowship trained Mohs surgeons have completed dermatology residency and a 1 year Mohs fellowship following residency. During their Mohs fellowship, they are trained in the proper techniques for the removal of skin cancer, examination of cancer cells under the microscope, and repair and reconstruction of the wound.
Do I need general anesthesia (to be “put under”) for Mohs surgery?
No. All Mohs surgery is done under local anesthetic. If you require general anesthesia for a large or complex skin cancer, you will be referred elsewhere.