Mohs micrographic surgery is a skin cancer removal procedure. The surgeon removes the cancerous tissue with a small margin of clinically normal tissue, and the tissue is then frozen. The tissue’s orientation is maintained, mapped, and carefully examined. Then, the tissue is cut into thin sections, set on glass slides, and stained for further examination. Any residual cancerous tissue is mapped so that the surgeon knows where to revisit to remove the tumor completely.
The Mohs technique allows a surgeon to fully remove all cancerous tissue in one treatment session. While other skin cancer removal methods carry an element of guesswork, Mohs surgery eliminates the need for estimation. The excised tissue is examined during the procedure so that the surgeon can immediately know whether more tissue must be removed. The surgeon ends the procedure as soon as microscopic examination shows cancer-free tissue all around the tumor.
The History of Mohs Surgery
Originally developed by Dr. Frederic Mohs in the 1930s, the Mohs technique initially fixed cancerous tissue with zinc chloride. While remarkably effective, this method was uncomfortable for the patient. It also had its limitations: each day, only one application could be performed. Freezing techniques were later used to speed up this process, allowing the surgeon to treat more tissue at once and provide a better patient experience. This is the Mohs technique used today. Now, many decades later, Mohs micrographic surgery is the preferred treatment for most skin cancers on the head and neck, as well as for recurrent or locally aggressive tumors that appear in other areas of the body.
What type of skin cancers can Mohs Micrographic Surgery treat?
Currently, Mohs surgery can remove basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs), which are the most common types of skin cancer. This technique may be especially appropriate for removal of skin cancers that are large, rapidly growing, identified by ill-defined edges, recurrent or likely to recur, located within scar tissue, or located in areas where function and cosmetic appearance are important (such as the eyelids or other areas of the face). Mohs surgery is also being considered for melanoma, using special staining to identify melanoma cells. We currently perform a “slow Mohs” procedure, in which the tissue is sent for permanent sections and closure is scheduled for the following day.
Does Mohs treatment harm the surrounding skin tissue?
In comparison to other treatments, Mohs surgery spares the greatest amount of healthy skin tissue while simultaneously eliminating the largest number of cancerous cells. It is currently the safest and most effective treatment for curing BCC and SCC. An additional benefit is that Mohs surgery produces the best aesthetic results because it removes the least amount of healthy tissue.
What is the cancer cure rate with Mohs surgery?
Mohs surgery cure rates for BCC and SCC are 98 to 99 percent, which is significantly greater than cure rates with excision or other techniques.
Can Mohs treatment help me if another cancer treatment isn’t working?
Mohs surgery may be used as a follow-up treatment where other cancer treatment methods have failed to adequately remove skin cancer. If your treatment has been unsuccessful, Mohs surgery could help you finally become cancer free.
Will I need more than one Mohs treatment?
Because Mohs surgery is so successful during its initial treatment session, most patients only need one treatment session.
If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, Mohs micrographic surgery could be the best treatment to eliminate your skin cancer. Call 303.683.3235 or fill out our online contact form to request your consultation with us today.