Introduction to Mohs
MOHS is a procedure named after the surgeon Frederic Mohs, MD that is used to remove non-melanoma skin cancers. This surgery is used for removing cancers that are very aggressive, where edges are not easily seen, that have recurred or cancers that are in functionally or esthetically important areas.
Overview of the Procedure
During MOHS surgery, cancerous tissue is removed layer by layer so as to completely remove the skin cancer while affecting the least amount of healthy tissue. For this reason, MOHS is the best option to remove skin cancers on the head and neck, which are areas that carry an esthetic concern for patients. Furthermore, this procedure has the highest cure rate of all skin cancer removal surgeries and affects the least amount of normal tissue.
We will discuss the procedure step-by-step below, but as the area around the skin cancer is frozen with local anesthetic, then the cancer tissue is surgically removed layer by layer. The tissue specimens are stained and examined at the time of surgery, allowing the surgeon to know when the entire tumor has been removed.
Step #1: Anesthesia is applied to the tumor and its surrounding area.
Step #2: The visible layer of the tumor is removed. A thin layer of tissue around the cancer area is also removed.
Step #3: A diagrammatic map, made by staining the removed tissues and analyzing them, is used to help the surgeon to identify any remaining tumor roots. If cancer tissue remains, the surgeon removes an additional thin layer of tissue and analyzes it.
Step #4: The wound is closed. If the surgeon decides that it would be more comfortable for the patient to be asleep for this part of the procedure, an appropriate anesthesia will be used. In some cases, the size of the wound may be rather large after the surgery. At our office, Dr. Beverly’s colleague, Dr. Robinson, a board certified facial plastic surgeon, will close the wounds in those instances to minimize scarring. If this is the case for you, Dr. Robinson will have a pre-operative consultation with you prior to your surgery. The closure of the wound by Dr. Robinson is usually covered by insurance companies.
If you are scheduled to have Mohs surgery at our office, we will give you a complimentary DVD detailing every step of the surgery (including images & diagrams) and what to expect on your surgery date.
For more information on Mohs surgery: