Mohs surgery is a very specific type of procedure for treating cancerous and precancerous skin conditions. The most common reasons for a Mohs procedure to be performed are basal squamous cell carcinomas, although it may also be used in case of other types of skin cancers. This is especially the case when the cancers in question are deemed to be unusual.
If the possibility of Mohs surgery is in your future, it's worth learning a bit about the what's and why's of the procedure. Let's take a look at four of the biggest questions patients often have.
What Makes the Mohs Approach Unique?
The main idea behind the Mohs process is to remove layers of skin in several passes. This is considered a micrographic procedure, meaning that only small amounts of material are removed in each pass. As passes are completed, the doctor will examine the removed skin to determine whether there are any cancerous or precancerous cells present. The goal is to keep making passes until there's no evidence of cancer in the skin that has been removed.
Do You Have to Go to the Hospital?
Mohs procedures are almost always performed on an outpatient basis. The surgery can be usually performed in a clinic or an office setting, and it typically only calls for local anesthetic.
When is Mohs Not the Right Choice?
The biggest concern doctors have about Mohs is not getting everything. While recurrence is always a risk with cancer, irregularly formed cancers are especially hard to get rid of and aggressive surgery is preferred.
Why Choose Mohs?
There are aesthetic, psychological and practical reasons for using the procedure. The risk of scarring from any surgery is something that patients often worry about. In the case of skin cancer, it's common for the cancerous cells to appear on regularly exposed skin areas, such as the face, the neck, and the hands. People are often conscious of scarring in these regions, and minimizing the amount of removed skin reduces the chances of visible scars.
Mohs surgery is also preferred when cancer appears in bodily areas with thin skin. For example, scarring isn't commonly a big concern if it appears along the folds of the upper eyelid. Unfortunately, there just isn't a lot of skin in this region of the body. To preserve as much skin as possible, a doctor will almost always want to use a Mohs procedure in these spots.