Mohs surgery is the highly refined, specialized removal of certain types of skin cancer. The procedure is performed in a methodical, layered approach to ensure that the entire tumor is excised in one appointment by a trained Mohs specialist. There are advantages and disadvantages for the patient in selecting this surgical approach.
Advantages of Mohs Surgery
This surgery has the highest cure rate, 97 to 99.8 percent for the most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, and a slightly lower cure rate for squamous cell carcinoma. Tissue preservation is optimized because the tumor is excised in layers and microscopically evaluated before proceeding with the the next intervention, if needed. General anesthesia risks are eliminated since this surgery is done with local anesthesia only, in most cases. Overnight hospital stays are rare for this type of surgery, making it more cost effective than traditional surgical interventions.
Disadvantages of Mohs Surgery
Mohs surgery results in a long surgical day to complete the procedure, in many instances. The tumor is excised, the tissue is examined and the process is repeated, removing more tumor in thin layers until the surgical margins are clean. Multiple injections of local anesthesia are needed throughout the tedious surgery and can cause repeated minor discomfort to the patient. Locating a specially trained Mohs surgeon can be an undertaking. Refer to the American Society for Mohs Surgery or the American College of Mohs Surgery, the professional organizations for this specialty, to locate a qualified surgeon in your area. Scarring is a known risk of any skin surgery. Mohs surgery is often closed by a reconstructive or plastic surgeon to lessen the impact of the surgical scar.
While this surgery is a highly specialized option to treat skin cancer, it is most important that you discuss the advantages and disadvantages specific to your case with your health care professional before making a treatment choice.