Mohs Surgery for Skin Cancer

Mohs Micrographic Surgery is a surgical procedure for the removal of skin cancer. Mohs surgery is most commonly used for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Mohs surgery is a very precise and effective method of removing the skin cancer lesion and any “roots” that may have extended beneath the surface.

Five-year cure rates are reported to be 99% for the initial treatment of skin cancer and 95% for recurring cases.

Mohs surgery removes the skin cancer while maintaining as much healthy skin as possible. This minimizes the size of the wound after the operation.

Mohs SurgeryMohs surgery involves the step-by-step removal of thin layers of tissue and the microscopic analysis of the tissue during the procedure. Tissue is removed from the surgical site until the last traces of skin cancer, as viewed under the microscope, have been eliminated.

Mohs Surgery compared to standard skin cancer surgeryThe use of a microscope to examine thin slices of tissue during the procedure is what differentiates Mohs surgery from other skin cancer removal procedures.

Cancers that have recurred are often treated with Mohs surgery because the precision of this procedure is ideal for the elimination of cancers in cosmetically and functionally critical areas such as on the head, neck, hands, and feet. (About 90% of Mohs surgery procedures are performed on the face.)

Advantages of Mohs Surgery

In addition to its high cure rate, Mohs surgery provides several other advantages for people with skin cancer:

  • Compared to traditional surgery, the precision of Mohs surgery usually causes less scarring.
  • It requires no general anesthesia, which permits its use for people who may not be able to tolerate traditional surgery.
  • Because it is so safe, it can be used for elderly people or in patients too fragile to undergo other forms of surgery.
  • The procedure can often be performed in a office-based surgical suite, minimizing hospital time for patients.
  • Because it uses microscopic examination of each layer of tissue to trace the edges of the cancer, Mohs surgery can more accurately eliminate diseased tissue and lessen the chance of recurrence.

Before Mohs surgery
Before Mohs
See larger image

During Mohs surgery
During Mohs
See larger image

After Mohs surgery
After Mohs
See larger image

Who performs Mohs Surgery?

Mohs surgey is named after Frederic E. Mohs, M.D. who developed the procedure in the 1930s. Mohs surgeons undergo additional training in surgery, pathology, and reconstructive surgery to provide the best possible cosmetic outcome and the highest quality of treatment for skin cancer.


© 2010 Vivacare. Last updated June 4, 2013.

Images courtesy of Gerald Goldberg, M.D. and the National Institutes of Health

All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited. You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute, reproduce, or commercially exploit the content.

This information is for general educational uses only. It may not apply to you and your personal medical needs. This information should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation with or the advice of your physician or health care professional.

Communicate promptly with your physician or other health care professional with any health-related questions or concerns.

Be sure to follow specific instructions given to you by your physician or health care professional.

From Your Doctor service powered by Vivacare.

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.
View Content Policy