About Mohs Surgery

Mohs surgery is a specialized treatment for skin cancers developed by Dr. Frederick Mohs a general surgeon in Wisconsin in the 1930s.  It proved to give a high cure rate for difficult skin cancers and was later adopted and refined primarily by dermatologists who treat the majority of skin cancers in modern medicine.  Mohs surgery requires the same physician to act both as surgeon (the removal of tissue) and as pathologist (reading and interpreting the slides to check the lateral and deep margins of excision).  The advantages of Mohs surgery are

  1. A very high cure rate, exceeding 95 percent for primary (previously untreated) skin cancers.
  2. Preservation of normal tissue, removal of only the cancer and a small margin of surrounding tissue.
  3. Better repairs of the surgical defects by keeping the wounds smaller and being assured of tumor clearance.

The main disadvantage of Mohs surgery is it is labor intensive, time consuming and therefore more expensive than some other methods of skin cancer treatment.

Mohs is primarily used for the treatment of skin cancers in important functional and cosmetic areas like ears, noses, lips, eyelids, fingers and genital areas.  It may also be used for large, recurrent or difficult tumors in other areas. In these areas assurance of cancer removal, keeping the surgical defects smaller and being assured of free margins before extensive repairs like advancements, rotations or tissue transpositions (ART), flaps or grafts is highly desirable and advantageous.

American Society for Mohs

More information on Mohs

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