In Mohs surgery, once a visible tumor is removed, the surgeon then removes an additional thin layer of tissue from the tumor site. This tissue is cut into sections, then marked and plotted to identify its original location on the patient’s body. By examining the tissue with a microscope, the surgeon can determine if any tumor cells remain and can locate them precisely on a tissue “map.” If tumor cells are present at the edge of a tissue specimen, the surgeon removes more tissue from the patient in that exact location.
This process is repeated until no further cancer is seen under the microscope. The Mohs procedure creates the smallest possible incision and removes a minimal amount of tissue until the exact boundaries of the tumor are identified.
Qualifications of a Mohs surgeon
To become certified in Mohs surgery, a physician must complete at least one year of training in a fellowship accredited by the American College of Mohs Surgery. Most Mohs surgeons have completed a residency program in dermatology prior to their Mohs training.
The most effective cure for skin cancer
When the procedure is complete, there is greater certainty that all the cancer has been removed because the borders of the specimen are more thoroughly examined than with conventional surgery. The cure rate of Mohs surgery is the highest of all treatments for basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers – up to 99 percent, even if other forms of treatment have failed.
The precision of Mohs
The Mohs surgery process, a specific sequence of surgery and tissue examination, allows surgeons to identify and remove cancerous tumors with great precision, leaving healthy skin unharmed. The entire process is completed in one outpatient appointment.
When is Mohs surgery appropriate?
Certain skin cancers are more readily cured by Mohs surgery than by other treatments, because the procedure allows the physician to examine more completely the tissue affected.
Mohs surgery is most appropriate in any of the following situations:
The cancer affects the face, especially cosmetically sensitive areas such as the eyelids, nose, ears and lips
The cancer has been unsuccessfully treated or has recurred after previous treatment.
The tumor is large or has poorly defined edges or borders.
The cancer appears to be growing aggressively.
What happens during the procedure?