Skin Cancer and Mohs Surgery

If you have recently been diagnosed with skin cancer, you are not alone. Over one million people are diagnosed with skin cancer in the U.S. each year, making it the most common type of cancer. Fortunately, it is also one of the most treatable forms of cancer.
 
We have treated over 15,000 cases of skin cancers in Rhode Island with Mohs surgery.

Some skin cancers are readily treated with topical creams, cryotherapy (freezing), electrodesiccation and curettage (burning and scraping), or simple excision. This technique is reserved for skin cancers that are:

  • located on cosmetically or functionally critical areas (especially on the face)
  • recurrent after failing previous treatment
  • clinically ill-defined or infiltrating
  • aggressive, large, or rapidly growing

Mohs surgery was developed by Dr. Frederic Mohs in the 1930's. During this procedure, the visible skin cancer is removed and processed in the Mohs laboratory, examining all of the edges of the specimen under a microscope. If any skin cancer remains, the area of remaining cancer is re-excised and, again, examined under a microscope. This process is repeated until the entire skin cancer, including any roots, is completely removed (see diagram). Once the tumor has been proven to be completely removed, most wounds are then repaired and sutured.

The Mohs technique offers several advantages over other treatments:

  • provides the highest cure rate of any treatments for skin cancer-up to 99 percent
  • minimizes the removal of normal skin tissue allowing for potentially smaller scars
  • performed under local anesthesia as an office based procedure

The Mohs surgery unit in our center is more than 2,000 square feet and includes five surgery suites, an integral lab, and a dedicated patient waiting area for privacy.  The lab is Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) inspected and approved by the federal government.

More in-depth information about Mohs surgery