Mohs surgery is a unique technique that is used to remove certain types of skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, from the skin. The Mohs technique of skin cancer removal was developed many years ago as a way to ensure clean margins after skin cancer removal and to decrease the chance of recurrence. Additionally, Mohs surgery yields a nice cosmetic result, which is important since many skin cancers are located on the face.
During Mohs surgery, the skin cancer is removed by a specialized dermatologist. After removing the specimen, the specimen is immediately evaluated under the microscope by a pathologist. While the patient waits, the pathologist determines if any of the skin cancer remains at the margins of the specimen. If a portion of the skin cancer remains, the pathologist is able to tell the dermatologist at what margin of the specimen the skin cancer is remaining. This process allows the dermatologist to fully remove the remaining skin cancer, without any guesswork. The dermatologist knows exactly where to remove more tissue and the patient does not need to undergo any unnecessary treatment. After removing the remaining tissue, the pathologist again evaluates the tissue under the microscope. If no skin cancer remains past the margin of the tissue, the dermatologist then is able to close the skin with sutures. Dermatologists trained in Mohs surgery are able to close the skin in such a way that only a small, subtle scar remains. Minneapolis dermatologist, Dr. Tareen, utilizes Mohs surgery for many of her patients with skin cancers.