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Skin Cancer

Mohs Surgery - A Treatment For Skin Cancer

Mohs micrographic surgery is the most advanced treatment procedure for skin cancer available today. Mohs Micrographic Surgery is an effective and precise method for treating basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers.

Initially developed by Dr. Frederic E. Mohs, the Mohs procedure is a state-of-the-art treatment that has been continuously refined over 70 years.

What is Mohs Surgery?

With the Mohs technique, physicians are able to see beyond the visible disease, to precisely identify and remove the entire tumor layer by layer while leaving the surrounding healthy tissue intact and unharmed. As the most exact and precise method of tumor removal, it minimizes the chance of re-growth and lessens the potential for scarring or disfigurement.

When to Consider Mohs Surgery

Mohs micrographic surgery is primarily used to treat basal and squamous cell carcinomas, but can be used to treat less common tumors including melanoma.

Mohs Surgery is appropriate when:

Does Mohs Surgery Leave a Scar?

Yes. Any treatment for skin cancer will leave a scar.

Mohs surgery preserves as much normal skin as possible and maximizes options for repairing the area where the skin cancer had been. Generally, a post-surgical scar improves with time and can take up to one year or more to fully mature. As your surgical site heals, new blood vessels can appear and support the healing changes occurring underneath the skin. This can result in the reddish appearance of the scar. This change is temporary and will improve with time.

In addition, the normal healing process involves a period of skin contraction, which often peaks 4-6 weeks after the surgery. This may appear as a bumpiness or hardening of the scar. On the face, this change is nearly always temporary and the scar will soften and improve with time.

If you have a history of abnormal scarring, such as hypertrophic scars or keloids, or if there are problems with the healing of your scar, injections or other treatments may be used to optimize the cosmetic result.

Success rate of Mohs Surgery

Mohs surgery has the highest success rate of all treatments for skin cancer - up to 99 percent. The Mohs technique is also the treatment of choice for cancers of the face and other sensitive areas as it relies on the accuracy of a microscopic surgical procedure to trace the edges of the cancer and ensure complete removal of all tumors down to the roots during the initial surgery.

Because the Mohs Micrographic Surgery process surgery features a systematic microscopic search that traces skin cancer down to its roots, it offers the highest chance for complete removal of the tumor while sparing the normal tissue surrounding it.

Training of Mohs Surgeons

Mohs surgeons are specially trained. They have completed at least one additional year of fellowship training (in addition to the physician's three-year dermatology residency) under the tutelage of a Mohs College member. These physicians are specially trained in surgery, pathology, and reconstruction.

Source: The American College of Mohs Surgery - Learn More About Mohs Surgery

To Learn More

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Last Reviewed: Aug 07, 2013

Jeremy S Bordeaux, MD, MPH Jeremy S Bordeaux, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Dermatology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University