What is Mohs Micrographic Surgery?
Mohs Micrographic Surgery is named after Dr. Frederick E. Mohs, the physician who developed the technique in the 1930s for the removal of difficult and recurrent skin cancers. The surgical procedure has been refined and perfected for over half a century.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery for Skin Cancer
Mohs Micrographic Surgery is state-of-the-art treatment for skin cancer in which specially trained dermatologists serve as surgeon, pathologist and reconstructive surgeon. For decades, the procedure has proven effective in getting to the roots of skin cancer by combining the surgical removal of cancer with the immediate microscopic examination of the tumor and underlying diseased tissue. The process enables Mohs surgeons to see beyond the visible disease and to precisely identify and remove the entire tumor, while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible.
When is Mohs Surgery the Treatment of Choice?
Although skin tumors are often visible to the naked eye, individual cancer cells are microscopic. Many “invisible” cells may form roots or “fingers” of diseased tissue that can extend beyond the boundaries of the visible cancer. If these cancer cells are not completely removed, they can lead to re-growth and recurrence of the tumor. The tumor may spread beyond its obvious external margin, with “nests” of cells growing in unpredictable areas.
The types of cancers most likely to form these complicated root systems are the following:
- Cancers located in cosmetically sensitive or functionally critical areas of the head and neck areas, particularly around the eyes, ears, nose, lips or scalp
- Previously treated cancers
- Cancers that grow rapidly and/or uncontrollably
- Cancers that do not have clearly defined edges
- Large cancers
- Cancers containing scar tissue
Common treatment methods are often not successful for the cancers mentioned above because they rely on the human eye to determine the extent of the cancer. Common treatment methods can remove too little cancer, which can cause it to recur and require additional surgery, or too much healthy tissue, which can cause unnecessary scarring. Of all treatments for skin cancer, Mohs Micrographic Surgery offers the highest cure rate, up to 99% based on data for treating basal and squamous cell carcinomas.
Who are Mohs Micrographic surgeons?
The highly trained dermatologists that perform Mohs Micrographic Surgery are specialists both in dermatology and pathology. With their extensive knowledge of the skin and unique pathological skills, they are able to remove only diseased tissue, preserving healthy tissue and minimizing the cosmetic impact of the surgery.