Mohs micrographic surgery involves removing a
skin cancer one layer at a time and examining these layers under a microscope
immediately after they are removed. This procedure allows for a close
examination of each layer of skin to detect cancer cells. It also allows a
minimal amount of tissue to be removed while ensuring complete removal of all
the cancer cells.
local anesthetic is injected into the skin before the
surgery. Your doctor then begins to remove the skin cancer and a small amount
of healthy tissue, one layer of skin at a time. Each tissue layer is prepared
and examined under the microscope for cancer cells. Surgery is complete when no
more cancer cells are detected.
What To Expect After Surgery
Recovery may take 2 to 4 weeks,
depending on the extent of surgery.
Why It Is Done
Mohs micrographic surgery may be used
for removal of skin cancer that:
Is likely to return. Mohs micrographic surgery
is more effective in obtaining cancer-free margins for cancers that have
irregular borders and a history of removal and recurrence.
located in visible areas or areas where skin tissue should be preserved, such
as on the ears, nose, or eyelids.
Mohs micrographic surgery can be an
effective treatment for skin cancer. This technique preserves as much nearby
healthy skin as possible. Treatment with Mohs surgery offers the highest rates
of cure for patients with squamous cell carcinoma.1
Mohs surgery is also advised for certain skin cancers when the highest cure
rate is needed while sparing as much healthy tissue as possible. Compared to standard excision treatments, recurrence is less after Mohs
Risks of surgery include:
Infection of the
What To Think About
Mohs micrographic surgery is the
best procedure to preserve skin tissue surrounding the cancer. But it requires
special training and equipment. And it is time-consuming and expensive.
National Cancer Institute (2008). Skin Cancer (PDQ): Treatment. Health Professional Version. Available online:
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.