Mohs Surgery: 3 Things To Know About It And Why It Is Used To Treat Skin Cancer

In the 1930s, Dr. Frederick Mohs developed a surgical procedure known as Mohs surgery. This procedure was developed to treat skin cancer and is still the most common procedure used today. If you were recently diagnosed with skin cancer, this might be the procedure your doctor recommends. If you are worried about the procedure or about the cancer you were diagnosed with, you may feel better learning that Mohs surgery is a highly successful procedure, and here are three important things to understand about this.

What Types of Skin Cancer Is This Used For?

The two most common types of skin cancer found today are basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and Mohs surgery is often used for both of these types.


Cancerous lesions found on the outermost layer of skin are usually BCCs and are generally fairly easy to treat. These lesions may be red or pink, and they are usually a result of too much exposure to the sun. The good part about this type of cancer is that it typically does not spread past the lesion itself, and this makes it an easier form of skin cancer to treat.


SCCs are also typically found in the outermost layer of skin and are often in the form of warts or elevated growths. They are also caused by exposure to the sun, but SCCs tend to grow when they are cancerous, and this causes the cancer to spread.

If you are diagnosed with either of these types of skin cancer, your doctor is likely to suggest using Mohs or skin cancer surgery to remove the cancerous cells.

How Is Mohs Surgery Completed?

When a surgeon begins using Mohs surgery to remove cancerous cells, he or she does not know how long the surgery will take because it depends on how many skin cells are affected. It is done in stages, which involve:

  1. Removing the cancerous growths – The doctor will begin right on the area of the growth and will remove the growth itself and the nearby skin.
  2. Testing the area – After skin is removed, the doctor will test the surrounding skin by pulling samples. The samples are tested to determine if they are cancerous, and this is done by viewing the samples under a microscope.
  3. Removing more skin – If the test comes back that the skin is cancer-free, the procedure will be finished. If the test reveals more cancerous cells, the doctor will remove more skin.

This procedure is repeated until the tests reveal that the cancer is gone. The purpose of doing this in stages is to avoid removing more skin than necessary.

What Should You Expect After This?

The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that Mohs surgery is 98% successful, which is a really high rate of success for cancer treatment. In other words, you have a really good chance of beating cancer if Mohs surgery is used. This is only true if it is used for the two types of skin cancers listed here. It can also help with melanoma skin cancer too; however, there are other treatment options that usually offer better results for treating melanoma.

After you battle skin cancer, your doctor may suggest having these areas on your body checked every year. Through a small skin biopsy, the doctor can test the areas just to make sure that the cancer has not returned.

To learn more about your diagnosis of skin cancer, or to find out more treatment options, talk to your healthcare professional. You may discover that Mohs surgery is right for you; but if not, your doctor will offer a different form of treatment.