Mohs surgery is a type of minimally invasive surgery that treats skin cancer by using a step-by-step process to remove it.
Because of its high cure rate, dermatologists often recommend Mohs surgery to treat most cases of basal and squamous cell carcinoma (the two most common types of skin cancer that usually develop on sun-exposed skin) on the head and neck.
The procedure may also be used to treat some early-stage cases of melanoma (the most serious type of skin cancer) and other rare skin cancers.
Minimally Invasive Treatment for Skin Cancer
Mohs surgery is typically performed on an outpatient basis and needs very little preparation. The area where the skin cancer is located is numbed with a local anesthetic. Then, your surgeon removes the visible skin cancer and a thin layer of tissue around and under it.
Next, your surgeon views the removed tissue under a microscope to see if the edges contain cancer cells. If there are cancer cells on at least one margin, the surgeon removes another thin layer of tissue and checks that for cancer cells under the microscope. These steps are repeated until no cancer shows under the microscope and only healthy tissue remains.
The procedure can take two to four hours to complete because it takes time to process the specimens and for your surgeon to examine each thin layer of tissue under the microscope. This is what makes Mohs surgery unique – all cancer cells are removed while healthy tissue is preserved.
Most patients need a few layers of stitches. If your surgeon uses stitches that are not absorbed into the body, you will need to return in one to two weeks to have the stitches removed. All patients return for a quick follow-up appointment four to six weeks after surgery to make sure everything is healing well.
Mohs Surgery Experts
Mohs surgery at Temple Health is performed by dermatologists who are trained Mohs surgeons. This means they have completed extra training in surgical oncology, pathology and reconstructive surgery, which makes them experts in all stages of the procedure.
The trained Mohs surgeon at Temple also uses special techniques so there’s less chance of scarring, while still making sure the tumor is removed.
Mohs surgery may be just one part of your skin cancer treatment plan. Temple dermatologists are medical and academic leaders who understand and treat all forms of skin cancer. They work along with a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists to make sure you receive the most advanced care that’s right for you.