Skin cancer strikes people of all ages and skin types. Traditionally, a large area surrounding the cancerous area is surgically removed in hopes of stopping the spread of the disease. Mohs surgery has emerged as an efficient alternative to traditional removals.
Mohs surgery removes skin cancer one layer at a time until the tumor is completely removed. The process examines each layer microscopically, mapping the cancerous areas and allowing the surgeon to remove malignant cells without sacrificing healthy tissue.
The surgery is named for its creator, Dr. Frederic E. Mohs. Dr. Mohs began studying cancer in the early 1930s while still a college student.
The procedure allows the surgeon to remove less tissue area than traditional surgery, making it more cosmetically desirable. The success rate for new cancer occurrence is 99 percent, making it the most effective surgical method as of 2009.
The width and depth of the cancerous area determines how many layers the surgeon will need to remove, one at a time, to analyze. For most patients, the surgery can be completed in eight hours.
Mohs surgery is conducted under local anesthesia, so the patient is awake and aware during the procedure. Skin grafting may be necessary for closing the surgical wound.