Mohs Surgery is tissue-sparing technique is used by board-certified dermatologists trained in the microscopic cure of skin cancer. Unlike conventional skin cancer removal where the specimen is sent to a lab, prepared, and interpreted days later to confirm cure, the tissue is processed right away with a special technique. This technique results in unmatched cure rates versus non-Mohs techniques.
In a normal specimen removed without Mohs Surgery, the tissue is divided like a loaf of bread into several random sections throughout the tissue. These tissue “disks” are placed on a slide and examined. This allows approximately 1% of the deep and lateral margins of a specimen to be examined. If a tumor is found at the edge of the specimen, it’s safe to assume that the other part of that cancer still exists in the patient’s skin.
Mohs, however, examines 100% of the deep and lateral margin prepared and uniquely processed, which is done immediately while you wait. After the typical slide preparation time of 30 minutes, the dermatologist, acting as both surgeon and pathologist, has determined if cancer has been cured. This process repeats itself until all of the tumor is removed. This results in high cure rates and unlikely chances for retreatment in the future. This is of major benefit when working on important areas of the head and neck, where skin is limited and cosmetic outcome is crucial.
What happens after all the tumor is removed?
The dermatologist, uniquely trained in reconstruction of defects left over after tumor cure, reconstructs the area with plastic surgery to help hide scars and facilitate optimal appearance. Sometimes grafts and adjacent tissue flaps are used to help repair larger defects.
Can Mohs surgery be used to treat all skin cancer?
No it cannot. Not all skin cancer meets appropriate use criteria, given the higher cost and in-office demands of using this technique. Your dermatologist will speak with you about appropriate uses for Mohs surgery.