Mohs surgery is a highly specialised technique for the removal of skin cancers such as Basal Cell Carcinomas (BCC) and Squamous Cell Carcinomas (SCC). The name Mohs refers to Dr Frederic Mohs, a dermatologist who pioneered this technique for removal of skin cancers. Some skin cancers are like an octopus; the head is easily seen with the naked eye however the “tentacles” which is not visible to the naked eye grows downwards and outwards into the skin. Mohs surgery allows these areas to be detected under a microscope and maximises the chance of cure.
The acceptance of Mohs micrographic surgery and its sub-specialization within the field of dermatology is based largely on the following two facts:
It has the highest cure rate (99% for skin cancers that have had no prior treatment and 95% for skin cancers that have been treated previously (e.g. previous standard surgery, Cryotherapy, Photodynamic Therapy (PDT). This cure rate is significantly higher than any other type of skin cancer treatment.
It ensures that the smallest amount of healthy skin around the tumour is removed thus enabling a smaller defect (wound) to be repaired compared to normal standard surgery. The technique allows the surgeon to take out a smaller margin around the lesion and the advantage of this is that the patient can be confident that in the main, that only the cancerous tissue is being removed and a minimal amount of tissue is lost. As a result, not only is all the skin cancer removed but also the best overall cosmetic results are also possible.
Mohs surgery is the most accurate procedure to remove skin cancers as it allows the dermatologic surgeon to examine the tissue excised at the time of surgery and ensure that the whole tumour is removed, roots and all, on the day of surgery.