Mohs micrographic surgery is the most effective and state-of-the-art procedure for skin cancer today. Mohs offers the highest potential for cure and recovery – even if the skin cancer has been previously treated by another method and recurred.
What Is Mohs Surgery?
Mohs is a specialized micrographic surgical technique used to remove skin cancers. 100% of the tissue margin is examined and this technique allows for the highest cure rate. This specialized technique allows physicians to remove skin cancer more effectively, while causing less damage to surrounding healthy tissue than any other method. Mohs is particularly ideal for the removal of high risk tumors, large tumors, tumors with irregular edges, and skin cancer that appears on the face or near delicate parts of the body.
Why Does My Skin Cancer Need Mohs Surgery?
Mohs Micrographic Surgery is primarily used to treat basal and squamous cell carcinomas.
Mohs Surgery is appropriate when:
- The cancer is in an area of high risk or where it is important to preserve healthy tissue for maximum functional and cosmetic result, such as eyelids, nose, ears, lips, fingers, toes, genitals;
- The cancer was treated previously and recurred;
- Scar tissue exists in the area of the cancer;
- The cancer is in a site of prior radiation;
- The cancer is large;
- The cancer type is aggressive;
- The patient has an impaired immune system;
- The edges of the cancer cannot be clearly defined;
- The cancer is growing rapidly or uncontrollably.
How Is Mohs Performed?
Mohs micrographic surgery is performed in stages. The first step in the Mohs surgery process is the removal of the visible portion of the tumor. This step is usually accomplished through surgical excision or curettage (scraping). Once this step is complete, a thin sample of tissue is taken from the area of which the tumor was removed. The sample is then carefully examined with a powerful microscope to screen for the presence of any additional cancerous tissue. If residual cancerous tissue is found, its precise location is determined and another small section of tissue is removed from this area. This sample is then examined under the microscope as well, and the process is continued until it is determined that no additional cancerous tissue remains. By using this systematic method to seek out the roots of a tumor, Mohs surgeons have a 97 to 99 percent chance of successfully removing the entire cancer, leaving the surrounding tissue largely unaffected. Mohs surgery has been particularly helpful for removing cancerous tumors when other forms of treatment have been unsuccessful.
The final step of the Mohs surgical procedure is the closing of the wound left by the excision. The specific repair used to complete this step will depend on the size, shape, and location of the incision. Larger wounds may need to be closed with stitches or repaired with a skin graft. The decision as to which of these methods would be most effective is generally made once the cancer has been removed and the extent of the excision is known.