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Beating Skin Cancer: Mohs Micrographic Surgery



For a person diagnosed with squamous cell or basal cell skin cancer, Mohs micrographic surgery offers an excellent chance of a cure and the best opportunity for an excellent cosmetic result. Mohs surgery may also be used to remove malignant melanoma and other types of skin cancer. Cure rates for a first squamous or basal cell cancer are greater than 95 percent. This is the highest cure rate of any treatment option. Mohs surgery allows a doctor to remove all of the cancer cells without removing any healthy tissue around the tumor.

Stages of Mohs Micrographic Surgery

Mohs surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis. Local anesthesia is used to numb the area before the surgery. Because the surgery involves removing the cancerous cells layer by layer, it can take several hours. The first stage of operation usually lasts 15 minutes or less. During the early stage, the physician removes the tumor as well as a small margin of skin around the cancer.

After the tumor is removed, a bandage is placed over the incision, and the patient waits while the physician examines the tissue under a microscope. This may take up to an hour. During this time, the physician will evaluate all areas of the specimen to determine if all the cancer has been removed or if more surgery is necessary. If there is still cancer remaining, the surgeon will return and remove the affected area. The surgeon will then examine that specimen under the microscope. This will continue until there is no cancer remaining. Most tumors require two to three stages to remove all the cancer cells. By performing the surgery in stages and examining all aspects of the tissue specimen, the surgeon can remove all of the cancer cells, while still preserving as much healthy surrounding tissue as possible.

Closing up the Incision

After all the cancer cells have been removed, the incision will be closed. The surgeon will use small stitches to close up the wound. If a large amount of skin has been removed, it may be necessary to close the wound with a skin graft or skin flap. The stitches will be removed in seven to fourteen days. Recovery is usually straightforward, and most patients experience minimal pain and discomfort after the surgery. Patients are generally able to return to work the day after Mohs surgery.

Mohs surgery offers an excellent cure rate, and the chances are meager that skin cancer will recur after the surgery. It also provides an excellent cosmetic outcome because only the cancerous tissue is removed.