What is Mohs micrographic surgery?
Mohs micrographic surgery is a specialized technique of treating skin cancer with precision accuracy. It has a higher cure rate than other treatment options, even for cancers that have returned after being treated by another method.
The Mohs technique, first developed over 80 years ago, has been refined and perfected for decades. It allows your physician to remove all cancerous tissue, and less healthy tissue, than traditional methods. It is different from other available treatments because it allows complete, immediate microscopic evaluation of removed tissues. Therefore, the extensions and “roots” of the tumor can be effectively eliminated.
What does the Mohs procedure involve?
With the Mohs technique, only the cancerous tissue is removed, leaving healthy tissue intact. However, it is difficult to predict the amount of cancerous tissue. Cancers of the skin may be much larger than they appear. Often, they have “roots” in the skin, or along nerves, blood vessels, or cartilage. If a previous surgery has failed, recurring cancer may extend beneath the scar tissue.
Mohs micrographic surgery is typically performed on an outpatient basis. It involves minimal discomfort and does not require general anesthesia. The procedure begins by numbing and marking the area. Your surgeon then removes the entire visible portion of the cancer, as well as a thin layer of additional tissue. The tissue is microscopically examined. If any sign of cancer is present, another thin layer is removed and examined. The process continues until no cancerous tissue remains.
When is Mohs surgery recommended?
The Mohs method is typically used for cancers that are high-risk for recurrence or those where aesthetic results are important. Although any surgery may leave a scar, Mohs will typically leave a much smaller scar than the alternatives, because less tissue is removed. In some cases, the scar may fade; if not, this small mark is usually corrected easily.