Mohs surgery is a combination of dermatology and pathology, and is a highly technical micro-surgical procedure that provides extremely precise removal of cancerous tissue, ensuring all cancer cells are removed at the time of surgery.
The Mohs surgeon removes the skin cancer in stages, using a microscope to examine the tissue for cancer cells as they go. Layers of tissue are removed and examined one at a time until no cancer cells are present. Because only tissue containing cancer cells is removed, as much healthy tissue as possible is spared therefore maximising the aesthetic result after repair of the wound.
Mohs surgery is an outpatient procedure and can be all done in a single visit in a day surgery setting under local anaesthesia. Unlike routine excisional surgery, patients get their definitive clearance results on the day of their procedure, saving them the anxious wait for lab results to discover if their cancer is gone and whether they require further treatment.
Some skin cancers can be deceptively large – far more extensive under the skin than they appear to be from the surface. These cancers may have “roots” in the skin, or along blood vessels, nerves, or cartilage. Mohs surgery is specifically designed to remove these cancers by tracking and removing these cancerous “roots.”
Mohs surgeons have specialized skills in dermatology, dermatologic surgery, dermatopathology, and Mohs surgery. To become a Mohs surgeon, an FACD qualified specialist dermatologist must undertake an additional one to two years of intensive specialist training and meet specific requirements. Mohs surgeons must also engage in ongoing quality assurance activities to maintain their accreditation.